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.