The plant of the week this week is from a group of Plants I am not too keen on, I just find most of the vincas a bit too, well something of nothing, yes they provide good groundcover in the case of V.minor but what on earth does V.major do? So yes I was hard on this group of Plants until I saw this one in flower a few weeks ago! And Jenny Pym changed my views of this plant in a few seconds, Why you may ask, Just look at the flower! How stunning is that! It’s amazing you can change your view of Plants by just seeing one particular good form.
Vinca difformis or the intermediate periwinkle as it is more commonly know as, is a native of Southern Europe, countries like Italy, Sardinia and Iberia where it is found growing in damp woodland areas. As it comes from the more warm parts of Europe, it’s thought to be semi tender in some parts of the uk with the Hilliers manual of trees and shrubs stating it may become herbaceous in more colder areas with the plant dying to the ground and coming back in the spring. however it’s certainly doing well in most areas without any real damage to the plant. It does prefer a shady spot in the garden but will quite happily grow in some sun as well, it does take most soils rather well, apart from very water logged soils. Like all vincas (depending on view of thought!) it makes very good groundcover, producing a dense growth up to around 30cm tall and spread can be about 60cm+ over time, something that makes it great ground cover. Growth wise, unlike other forms of Vinca, difformis puts on 2 forms of growth, a long arching form for growth and spreading about and a shorter growth of about 30cm which is from where the beautiful flowers are borne. It starts it’s main flowering in October but keeps on flowering right up to February/March but also will throw out flowers all year around. The name Vinca comes from Ancient Greek word Vinco meaning to bind, whether that’s the roots binding the soil together or the stems being used to tie things together, no one is sure which one it is, same with difformis, some thinking it means the odd shape of the flowers, other schools of thought, think it’s the 2 different types of growth from where the name comes from. Not managed to find out where the name Jenny Pym came from… anyone out there who can advise me
Planting is simple, plant into a well prepared bed, I now prefer to fork the bed over removing all weeds as possible and then add a planting mulch of composted green waste on top, nice square hole with a handful of Vitax Q4 added and that’s it. For good groundcover, try and plant about 6 of these per m2. They don’t need too much aftercare, trimming to shape in early summer if needed, reducing the long stems if they start becoming a problem. If it starts spreading too much a sharp spade is all that’s needed to reshape it, cut around the shape you require, leave the middle bit and carefully remove the rest using a fork. Pest wise, not much causes it problems, deer and rabbit proof.
You can but this plant from Dorset Perennials and Botanica. It can be found growing in many different gardens including Sir Harold Hillier Gardens where it can be found in the winter garden
7 Comments Add yours
A good choice.V difformis has white flowers with just a hint of blue.V d Snowmound has sparkling white flowers.They stay evegreen here in south Somerset anf flower right through the winter.
Thank you 😊 just stunning flowers aren’t they
I am also in South Somerset and I have the Vinca difformis Jenny Pym too, it has only just got going after 4 years of struggling from a cutting, it is now absolutely glorious and full of flowers. It is interesting to read about its habit and where it comes from. The only other place I have seen it is East Lambrook gardens.
This plant is named after my grandmother, the botanist who discovered it 🙂
How lovely, did she find it in Italy?
Although you are clearly very well qualified and experienced I am left wondering whether this Vinca would grow in dry-ish shade…..you say it enjoys moisture so I presume not?
As William Pym said, this was named after our Grandmother Jenny Pym.
She discovered it in Portugal in the 1970’s. She was a botanist, travelled throughout Europe in a camping bus with her dog, walking and plant hunting. She had a licence to bring plants back to the UK where she quarantined them in her garden before passing them on to RHS Wisley. On the same trip she also discovered and named Allium schoenoprasum ‘Wallington White”
She never mentioned these discoveries to her family. About 25 years later I came across ‘Jenny Pym’ being sold by Van Hague nurseries (she’d have approved as she was Dutch!) After extensive research and emails we tracked down the story.
Vinca Difformis Jenny Pym is a lovely plant with the prettiest flower, brilliant ground cover and flowers profusely all winter. Having said that mine flowers to some degree all year round!