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Travis: Pride goeth before impatiens
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The seven deadly sins are pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth. I’ll admit to gluttony, especially when chocolate is involved.

But just recently I was reminded by circumstances that pride goes before a fall. "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall," (Proverbs 16:18).

Hubris, or pride, according to Milton in "Paradise Lost," was the sin of Satan, who warred with God in Heaven because he thought he was all but equal to God. That pride was so strong that, even after being thrown out of Heaven and wallowing in the fires of Hell, Satan made a plan to destroy God’s latest work — the creation of Earth and mankind.

That pride was the sin of Satan is one reason, among others, why it is considered the greatest of the deadly sins.

And my pride has led to the downfall of my impatiens.

I bragged to you several weeks ago that my impatiens, in various pots in the middle of my driveway, had never looked better. They were higher than they had ever been and were really enjoying the wet weather. They were a pretty light pink and made quite a show as you drove in my driveway.

One week later, I began to notice that some of the plants were almost, it appeared to me, melting. Their leaves dropped off, and the stems looked as though they were cut off at the point they enter the soil.

I fretted and wondered what to do, but I procrastinated (which might be the sin of sloth). It was just one pot, and I still had some plants left in the flat I had purchased earlier. So I thought I would dig up the dead plants and replant the pots.

But first I looked online for information about what might be attacking my plants.

You are never supposed to look online when the doctor tells you might have a disease. You find out far more than you need to know. Well, let me tell you that the same thing is true for plants.

There might be a fungus in my soil eating my plants. The Internet recommended I use a fungicide that contained some chemicals with very long names, which I wrote down and never found listed on any fungicide that I picked up and inspected in the garden department. I bought a fungicide and carried it home and sprayed the affected plant and the plants in pots surrounding that plant.

There, I thought, that will take care of it. It didn’t.

Back to the Internet. My plants might have root rot. It is some kind of pathogen that lives in the soil. The only solution is to throw away all the dirt and plants, making sure to keep them from coming in contact with other plants.

I took that pot and emptied the dirt from it. It took me several trips to the garbage can; I couldn’t carry all that dirt at once.

I got rid of all signs of the infected plants and then washed, with hot soapy water (as was recommended by the Internet), the pot and my husband’s old golf balls, which I put in the bottom of my pots for drainage.

I thought I’d wait a week and then plant those remaining impatiens. No such luck. The plants in pots around the original pot are now getting sick.

I went back to the Internet. It might be downy mildew. The remedy, again, is to throw everything away before it contaminates other flowers. Several entries about this disease recommended that gardeners consider planting New Guinea impatiens or begonias, neither of which is affected by the disease.

My husband bought me a big bag of potting soil. But by the time I get all the pots emptied, the quarantined flowers out of my yard, the pots washed and sanitized, it will be the middle of August. I will do all of those things, just not in a hurry. With only about six weeks left before it’s time to plant fall flowers, I am just going to let those impatiens die and live with no flowers for six weeks.

But I miss those pretty impatiens. Or maybe it’s my pride that does.


Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at