|THE BUSY LIZZIE - Impatiens walleriana|
Up until recently, Impatiens species and their cultivars have been without doubt some of the most popular of all summer bedding plants. Unfortunately, the cultivar range of Busy Lizzies - Impatiens walleriana has for the past ten years or so have been hit by a devastating fungus-like organism Plasmopara obducens, commonly known as Impatiens downy mildew.
|Busy lizzie flowers|
Luckily, outbreaks of downy mildew have been confined to the Busy Lizzie cultivars and no cases have been found on the New Guinea impatiens -Impatiens × hawkeri or on the few species of Impatiens found growing in the wild in the UK such as the Himalayan balsam - Impatiens glandulifera.
Native to eastern Africa from Kenya to Mozambique, it is in its natural habitat a herbaceous perennial plant capable of growing up to 24 inches in height. One of its defining features are its incredible seed pods which, when ripe, will explode to the slightest touch. This rather shocking adaptation has evolved as a very effective mechanisation for for seed dispersal.
|Impatiens walleriana - Forest and Kim Starr|
The Buzy Lizzie was commonly cultivated for parks and garden bedding schemes, but it was also a mainstay of hanging baskets and planted containers. Numerous cultivars had been developed which ranged in colours from white to purple, and all colours in between. The Super Elfin series which was bred by Claude Hope in Costa Rica was the most dominant of all the available commercial cultivars.
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