Written by Rick Charnes, Terrascapes Staff Member
Impatiens Balsamina (Rose Balsam, or Garden Balsam) has been one of the great success stories in my garden this season. It’s such a beautiful annual with its flowers coming directly off the leaf axil along multiple stems, an old favorite from the Victorian era. Even now in early fall some of the plants still have elegant pink, red and white flowers at the upper region of their stalks. Of course the older flowers finished blooming a month or two ago and formed seed pods, their wonderful explosive dehiscence flinging the seeds far from the mother plant. If you pick a mature pod off the plant, it curls and explodes in your hand. (That’s where the name Impatiens comes from — they’re impatient to scatter their seed.) I started these plants from seed indoors and it’s been such a delight to watch them progress through the season. But to now see a second generation of seed born from my labors — from one seed placed in a seed tray in April to many hundreds now scattered about my garden — is very satisfying.
And here in the last days of September with the cold descending upon us and the growing season drawing to a close, I am seeing beautiful, delicate, hopeful seedlings germinated from those seeds!
Oh, how I want to comfort and nurture them and tell these small plants that everything will be ok even though I know it’s not true, that they have as much of a chance to grow and survive into adulthood as their parents did when I started them in flats indoors. I want to let them know that all is right in the world, that the world they grew into is a fruitful and abundant one with every opportunity available to them. I don’t want them to find out that here in New England, in the specific climate they are growing in, we will most probably have frosty temperatures in three or four weeks that they will find intolerable and inhospitable, most probably to be followed by many months of a winter with temperatures in the single digits and something called snow about which they know nothing. I want to hide from them that the future contains conditions in which they will in no way be able to survive since as warm-season annuals they are entirely unequipped to deal with what lies ahead and must inexorably succumb to the cold.
All I can do now is gaze at them lovingly, to admire these small tender beings and the precious life they carry inside them, and appreciate and enjoy with them the short time both they and I have been allotted on this beautiful green earth.