Impatiens from my garden before the blight (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Disease Resistant Impatiens are now available! Gardeners in the United States have been reliant on colorful annual impatiens flowers for years. Super simple to grow, and offered in many colors, impatiens even reseed themselves and flourish in shady areas. Up until 2012, I was growing impatiens in my own landscape with great success.

Yet over the past 10 years, a downy mildew disease has overtaken the majority of the impatiens plants across the Eastern US. The disease, believed to have originated in Europe, causes the impatiens plants to wilt almost overnight. The disease remains in the soil from year-to-year so the next year’s plants will also succumb to the blight. The downy mildew disease has spread across almost the entire United States.

Impatiens Downy Mildew Disease (Photo Credit: Ipswich Garden Club)

Impatiens Downy Mildew Disease (Photo Credit: Ipswich Garden Club)

I’m lucky to have four tiny impatiens plants that have somehow escaped the disease, and are reseeding themselves each year. Right now, they are growing in a small ramekin in my kitchen window and will move to a larger pot to be placed outside.

One of my annual impatiens that has escaped the downy mildew disease -- is flowering! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

One of my annual impatiens that has escaped the downy mildew disease — is flowering! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

This year, I’m seeing lots of interest in a new strain of impatiens plants called “Bounce” impatiens. First announced to the public in 2014, the new Bounce impatiens plants will not only “bounce back” from a lack of watering, but are also resistant to the impatiens downy mildew blight.

Impatiens Big Bounce Violet (Photo Courtesy whiteflowerfarm.com)

Impatiens Big Bounce Violet (Photo Courtesy whiteflowerfarm.com)

Check your local garden center and maybe even the big box stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart. Some of the online retailers such as White Flower Farm and Monrovia may carry the plants for home delivery or delivery to your local garden center.

If you can’t find these new impatiens, you can check out these substitutes from my local Merrifield Garden Center in Fairfax, VA. Merrifield Garden Center’s site is a great resource for gardening tips.

Merrifield Garden Center's Impatiens Substitutes List (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Merrifield Garden Center’s Impatiens Substitutes List (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Let’s hope the brand new Bounce impatiens varieties will thrive! I miss my impatiens and I bet some of you do, too.

Are you seeing the new Bounce impatiens in your area? Let us know where!

Pretty yellow daffodils in my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Spring Garden 2015 It’s already Spring! What’s happening in your garden this Spring? Color is popping up in my garden and I am sooo ready for our cold long winter to be over.

Daffodil with Apricot Center (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Daffodil with Apricot Center (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Finally, Spring has Sprung in my garden. Many happy daffodils and crocuses are peeking up through the beds of oak leaves. It seems we are at least two weeks behind last year’s beginning of Spring, and almost a month behind 2012’s Spring season. Maybe that old groundhog was right!

Love these "double" daffodil flowers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Love these “double” daffodil flowers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My first purple crocus of the Spring 2015 season! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My first purple crocus of the Spring 2015 season! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Purple and White Striped Crocuses (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Purple and White Striped Crocuses (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pretty yellow daffodils in my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pretty yellow daffodils in my garden (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

We had a long hard cold winter this year. It was so cold for so long that my front pond and waterfall froze through almost completely. Three goldfish were living in the front pond, and I was really hoping to find all three still alive. Finally, when the pond thawed out, I did see that all three goldfish survived and the pump was still going strong. In the following few weeks, one goldfish didn’t make it and went to goldfish heaven. I’m looking forward to “fishing” out the other two as they’ve become a bit bigger in that pond. They will move to one of the bigger ponds in the backyard.

Last weekend, I removed all the pond mesh from my three ponds. The pond mesh keeps out most of the tree leaves and other tree debris that drops and blows around during the winter. The backyard ponds are very active already. I counted 21 goldfish in the bottom pond and 9 goldfish in the top pond. Looks like the majority of the fish in each pond survived the winter. That’s one hundred percent attributed to leaving the pond pumps on all winter. I believe running the pumps keeps the pond water a lot healthier! I did clean the filters when I removed the mesh. A messy job but someone has to do it. My plants that get the fish poop are pretty happy for extra fertilizer.

Three frogs survey the pond for insects (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Three frogs survey the pond for insects (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My backyard ponds are currently home to at least 11 frogs. There are probably more frogs that haven’t yet emerged or that have been “hiding” from me. At least one bullfrog was “giving me the business” when I was cleaning the filter in the bottom pond and had rested the flexible tube that attaches to the filter on his favorite perching place. The frogs usually aren’t so talkative this early in the year. At least one frog has been seen at the front pond. Haven’t seen any bullfrog tadpoles yet but I know they’re in the bottom pond. The bullfrog tadpoles will grow legs and turn into frogs in about a month or two.

The backyard whiskey barrel pond is set up and will run through mid-October. We had a lot of frogs laying eggs in the whiskey barrel pond last year, so hoping for the same this year. There are no fish in the whiskey barrel pond so the eggs won’t be eaten before they get a chance to hatch.

A frog peers out from under a rocky hiding place (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

A frog peers out from under a rocky hiding place (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I don’t remember if I mentioned closing down a small pond in the backyard. Although it was a neat “surprise” as you came upon it sort of around a bend, it was not convenient enough to feed the fish daily and keep it maintained. Most likely, I will move that small pond liner to a new location this year where we can see it and it’s more accessible.

A pair of cardinal birds has built a nest in my photina bush. Not the best location as it’s accessible from the deck stairs by predators…however, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal aren’t the brightest when it comes to nest locations.

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal have built a nest (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal have built a nest (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The evil microstegium has already sprouted. The microstegium, also known as Japanese stiltgrass, is an invasive annual grass which, of course, the deer won’t eat. Microstegium grows in dry shade. It’s mostly eradicated from our front lawn over years of weeding and treatment although it does pop up around the edges in the woods. It would help if the neighbors would get rid of their microstegium, but they don’t. If it’s green, it must be good, right? Not this stuff! The seed pods hold over 1000 seeds per pod. Seeds can remain dormant for up to 7 years.

Cute little violet growing in my patio pavers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cute little violet growing in my patio pavers (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

I plan to try my hand at growing some lettuces and spring mix this year. I purchased several packages of lettuce seeds as well as my favorite herbs. For a few years, I’ve wanted to repurpose an area of our front property as a vegetable and herb garden — alas, I haven’t gotten around to it. There are two old native dogwoods gracing that area right now. I’ll probably have to wait until they pass on. Or I can place my herb and vegetable garden in another area. It’s too shady in the backyard so growing in pots is iffy. My deck gets about 4 hours of direct sun and then the rest is dappled shade — just not enough sun for sun-loving herbs and other plants.

Pale purple crocuses sneak up through the leaves (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Pale purple crocuses sneak up through the leaves (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

What’s happening in YOUR garden this Spring? Leave a comment and let us know!

Light up your tree's branches for a pretty winter effect (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

For some gardeners, winter is the most exciting time in the garden. The garden will show its “bones” and structure silhouette for admiration, or possibly modification for a new look next year. Either way, it’s a great time to check out what tree, shrub, or plant needs to be pruned, moved, or just left alone to thrive. Winter interest in the garden is a gardener’s delight.

My Nandina is full of berries this winter! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

My Nandina is full of berries this winter! (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Oakleaf Hydrangea has gorgeous peeling bark in winter (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Oakleaf Hydrangea has gorgeous peeling bark in winter (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Burford Holly berries in abundance in my yard (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Burford Holly berries in abundance in my yard (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Examples of plants, bushes, and trees that you can add to your garden for winter interest include:
– Plants that have berries
– Evergreens that stay green all winter
– Shrubs that retain their leaves
– Ornamental grasses
– Plants with seeds or seed pods that remain all winter
– Trees and shrubs with interesting bark
– Bulbs that flower in winter or early Spring

Tree branches in the snow (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tree branches in the snow (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Evergreens add winter interest to your landscape (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Evergreens add winter interest to your landscape (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tete-a-tetes in the snow (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Tete-a-tetes in the snow (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Gorgeous evergreens for purchase at Merrifield Garden Center (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Gorgeous evergreens for purchase at Merrifield Garden Center (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Hardscapes such as stone paths, stone walls, decorative boulders, and even stone-and-boulder-wrapped fish ponds really shine in the winter. With little greenery around them during winter, your hardscapes can show off as your garden’s best cold weather features.

Boulders and evergreens at the pond will provide winter interest (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Boulders and evergreens at the pond will provide winter interest (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Snow at the Fish Pond (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Snow at the Fish Ponds (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Light up your shrubs and tree branches for bright night splendor.

Light up your tree's branches for a pretty winter effect (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Light up your tree’s branches for a pretty winter effect (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

What are your favorite garden elements that shine in the winter? Share yours with a comment!