Written by Betsy Abraham, Babraham@antonnews.com Thursday, 14 March 2013 00:00
When gardeners begin shopping for spring flowers, they may notice a familiar staple missing: the impatiens.
Impatiens walleriana, which are beloved globally for their wide selection of color and low maintenance, have been affected by a fungus called downy mildew. The fungus first causes tiny spots, then yellowness on the leaves. A few weeks later, all that’s left is the flower’s stem and a frustrated gardener.
“The leaves turn yellow and fall off,” said Mary Ann Elliott, a member of the Massapequa Park Garden Club, who didn’t have the fungus in her plants last summer but has seen it elsewhere. “There are streaks of yellow, almost like a frost would have hit it there.”
The fungus was first spotted in Europe nearly a decade ago, and has spread to much of the U.S. in the past few years. Wind spreads the fungal spores up to three miles and humid weather causes it to spread rapidly.
Nate Jackson, green goods garden center manager at Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, stresses that the fungus is specific in attacking only impatiens walleriana, not other types such as New Guinea impatiens. The fungus also does not affect other types of flowers, so planting them where infected impatiens once were or nearby will not bother the new crop.
“This is one of those diseases that will totally devastate your impatien crop. But it is only impatiens. Each downy mildew is very specific to the type of plant it attacks,” Jackson said.
However, Jackson urges gardeners who have planted infected impatiens in the past to throw out that soil, as the spores can linger and kill future impatiens.
“All the spores can survive on the debris in the ground and in the soil for up to three years, so it’s very important that you clean up the old debris. Don’t compost it, it goes straight in the garbage. As much as you can get away, the more chance of success you’re going to have in the future,” Jackson said.
Impatiens walleriana is the highest selling bedding flower in North America. After becoming aware that the popular annual would be in much more limited quantities or even completely unavailable, Jackson and his team at Hicks worked to find alternatives for gardeners.
“We recognize this is a problem. But we’ve really worked hard this off-season to come up with the right solutions for people. We have a nice palette for people to choose from and we’re very prepared,” Jackson said.
Jackson says that while Hicks will be testing their impatiens, and will have signage informing customers about the downy mildew, he still advises against planting them.
“If you’re going to plant impatiens in Long Island or even in Manhattan, there’s a very high chance that they’re going to get infected, even if you’ve done everything you can do prevent it. It’s up to the consumer to make that choice,” Jackson said.
For those looking to fill their gardens with the beautiful colored blossoms, Jackson suggests torenias, New Guinea impatiens, vincas, and wave petunias. Nelson Demarest, visual merchandising manager, also suggests wax or rieger begonias.
“If you want more bang for your buck, these are great,” Demarest said. “They’re no hassle and last all summer.”
He adds that while the leafy plant coleus has no flowers, the pink, purple and red leaves can brighten up any garden.
“It’s just an endless rainbow of color,” Demarest said.
Gardeners can preview all these flowers and more at Hick’s Garden Show, which is currently underway. The show, which ends March 17, seeks to get people excited about spring and presents different ideas for their gardens including flowerbeds, shrubs, trees, fountains and ponds.
Donna Moramarco, Director of Marketing at Martin Viette Nursery, says that people should keep in mind that no other plant will look or act like an impatien.
“There’s no mystery about them, but unfortunately with the downy mildew, there’s no way for the homeowner to know. People take a lot of pride in their gardens, and people are really looking forward to spending time outside and the last thing they want is to not have success,” Moramarco said.
But, not having the familiar flower can force gardeners out of their comfort zones and look for other ways to fill the shady spots of their garden.
“Impatiens are off the radar for a while. There is life after impatiens and I think it’s going to give people opportunities to have some new friends in the garden. People might be pleasantly surprised,” Moramarco said.
So when can impatien lovers expect to see their favorite flowers again? Not for a couple of years, says Jackson.
“We kind of just have to see how it goes,” Jackson said. “The biggest thing is cleaning up if you see the problem, and trying to avoid planting impatiens and after two or three years, it’ll eventually die off.”
When asked if she would plant impatiens in her garden this year, Elliott replied, “Probably not.”
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal pannel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards. Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
Outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites High School graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:33
The iPad, the laptop, the smartphone; everyday instruments to many people all throughout the world, but to someone just being indoctrinated into the world of cutting-edge technology these tools might seem rather daunting. Unless there is a patient hand guiding the way.
Those guides were at the Massapequa Public Library’s Bar Harbour branch recently, where they offered a session of their ongoing Electronic Device Demonstration and Tutoring series, where community teenagers donate their time to turn tech-deficient adults into masters of the digital domain; free of charge and all within the span of one hour or less.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:47
One of Major League Soccer’s top front office executives has many fond memories of growing up in the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Bill Manning, the President of Western Conference champion Real Salt Lake and the club’s field, Rio Tinto Stadium, played for the LIJSL Select Team from 1979 to ‘83 as well as the Massapequa Soccer Club from 1972 to ‘83.
Manning’s Massapequa teams had virtually the same players from Under-10 to Under-19, but kept changing their name depending on who their coach was. He played for the Massapequa Flying Dutchmen (coached by Kurt Knoblauch), the Massapequa Bugs (Dick Roche), the Massapequa Cosmos (Jerry Lyons) and the Massapequa Bulls (coached by his father, also named Bill Manning). The Bulls might have lost in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) State Open Cup finals to B/W Gottschee in overtime in 1983, but his teams won the LIJSL division championship in 1974, ‘76 and ‘79 plus the Long Island Cup in 1980 and ‘83.
Thursday, 27 February 2014 10:58
If the games were played on paper, Massapequa would’ve had no shot. The Chiefs faced a tall order last week playing Elmont, which boasted a 12-3 record and four premier scorers. They gave a tremendous effort, but ultimately had their season cut short, 69-62, despite Alex Cosenza leading the scoring with 29 points.
“I can’t ask for anything else from these guys,” said Head Coach Matt Voigt. “I am so proud of them. I applaud their efforts,”