Periwinkle: Vinca Major, a sea of knee-high green
I’d have to say the periwinkle Vinca major saves me about a bazillion hours of weeding each summer, smothering out just about any weed bold enough to insist on staking a claim. If periwinkle can easily engulf a pot topping 30 inches (above), dandelions don’t stand a chance of permanent residency.
While the individual flowers are real lookers, like little blue polka dots floating on a sea of green, the real standout on this plant is its foilage. Lush, bullet-proof and evergreen, Vinca major forms a knee-high carpet wherever it’s planted (at least in the Pacific Northwest).
I maintain its boundaries simply by mowing. Above, periwinkle creates a cool oasis in the understory in an area that would be too labor-intensive to hand weed and maintain.
Where the periwinkle meets the drive, it stays put and frames an all-season border around my cedars, fir and vine maples.
When I wanted a new path to the vegetable garden, I ran the mower through the middle of the periwinkle at the top mowing height and then lowered it with each repeat pass. After a couple weeks of doing this, it stopped growing in the path and left me a handsome serpentine walk to my lower garden–a welcomed new route as prior to this I’d lose Boz and Gracie beneath the leafy waves.
Vinca major also has a tamer vining brother, Vinca minor, which may be better suited to smaller areas or urban gardens.
In the words of one of my favorite garden writers, Beverley Nichols, “I earnestly suggest that you become a periwinklist without delay.”