Sandy’s Garden ... SunPatiens

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One of the great delights of my life is to go to the small town of Garda, on the shores of Lake Garda.

I don’t write that one of the great delights of my life is to visit Garda, for I have lost count – yes, really – of the number of times I have been there with my wife; and it seems like a second home to us.

And, much as we love Garda – its people, its location, its food, its wine and its weather – we take almost equal delight in visiting the neighbouring small towns of Torri del Benaco, Lazise, Malcesine or Bardolino, none more so that this last, for Bardolino has everything that we look for on a day out.

One of the many delightful features of Bardolino is the display of summer bedding plants in the small squares, in window baskets, by the sides of streets and along the promenade which stretches either side of the town centre.

Always attractive, with the glorious sunshine, warm temperatures and careful attention that the displays enjoy being rewarded with brilliantly coloured displays of myriad blooms, the flowers were even more eye-catching this summer; and a thoughtful local authority had included plant labels in the very best displays giving information on the type of flower and the particular variety or varieties planted in this bed.

I must confess - perhaps to my shame - I had never heard of SunPatiens. Impatiens yes, of course, for that is the botanical name for the plant we commonly call ‘Busy Lizzies’ in these islands. But SunPatiens?

SunPatiens, I learn from the Internet, is a new introduction to the range of summer bedding available to the gardener.

And in my opinion SunPatiens richly merits the glowing advertising accolade conferred on it by seedsmen Thompson & Morgan, who enthuse in these words. “‘Wow’ is the only word to describe the impact from this brand new, sun-loving busy lizzie which is a hybrid between New Guinea Impatiens and a wild type. SunPatiens® is taking the plant world by storm with its exceptional vigour and ability to withstand rain, wind, humidity, scorching heat and cool shade. It’s a plant of superior qualities: quicker to establish, stronger root system, thicker petals and much larger flowers than normal Impatiens. Just one plant covers an area three feet square! ‘Flower Power’ is an understatement - but don’t just take our word for it, grow SunPatiens® for yourself, we think you’ll be suitably impressed. Height and spread: 60cm (24”).”

The reader will have noticed that Thompson & Morgan refer to SunPatiens®, being meticulously careful to add the symbol ®, indicating that the plant has been registered by its breeder and that his rights are protected. And here is that breeder’s own description of his new product, which can be expected to bring him millions of dollars in licence fees to allow other seedsmen and professional nurseries to produce these plants. “SunPatiens® is a revolutionary new hybrid impatiens bred by Sakata. These remarkable plants represent a breakthrough in flower breeding: robust, sun–loving, heat–loving impatiens that thrive in full sun or part shade and deliver continuous color” (yes, ‘color’ in the original, for Sakata is an American company) “from spring through frost. Whether used in baskets, window boxes, patio pots or in the landscape, these beautiful plants combine massive flower power with tough, low-maintenance plants that flourish almost anywhere.” What a gift to the gardener! But a niggling doubt invades my mind. Since Sakata Seed America Inc. is based in California and Bardolino enjoys a climate that we can only dream of, must we wait for some imaginative plant breeder to develop ‘RainPatiens’ for Scotland?

Sandy Simpson, Polmont Horticultural Society