My Report On Periwinkles, A Spring Flower That Is Often Overlooked

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I call these vines, which are growing in the shady area around the base of our deck, Periwinkles.  Currently the lavender-blue flowers, which contrast so beautifully with the dark green leaves, are in bloom.

Aren’t they pretty?

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“Originally a native of southern Europe,… ‘Periwinkle’ is thought to be an old Slavic word, pervinka, meaning ‘first’ and referring to the early spring flowers.”

~ C. Colston Burrell

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A few years ago when the landscapers put these Periwinkles around the deck, a little plastic gardening tag embedded in each of the plants told me that they were called Vinca minornot Periwinkles.  Since then I’ve come to realize that sometimes these trailing vines + flowers are also called myrtle.

Such a humble plant to have three names.

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“Periwinkle vines gently embrace one another, clinging gently to their surroundings, and therefore are associated with fidelity in folk magic.”

Feri Tradition

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According to the Victorian language of flowers, Periwinkles mean early friendship.  This makes sense to me because they bloom early and because they look approachable & non-threatening.

Who doesn’t feel comfortable around simple little flowers on sturdy vines?

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“Through primrose tufts, in that green bower, The periwinkle trailed its wreaths; And ’tis my faith that every flower Enjoys the air it breathes.”

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I’m glad that I snapped a photo of these little flowers.  They’re easy to take for granted.  I imagine that it’s difficult to be a periwinkle, especially when you are surrounded by showy daffodils, pushy tulips & spazzy forsythia who get all the springtime attention.

Makes me adore Periwinkles even more.

Published by

Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

24 thoughts on “My Report On Periwinkles, A Spring Flower That Is Often Overlooked”

  1. Guess what is the name of my street: yep. Periwinkle Way AND our “early friendship” goes back as far as it can go. I’m glad!

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  2. I love this groundcover flower and put it throughout my back yard. I have to say I wouldn’t use it so widely again. It doesn’t block out weeks as well as pachysandra but when it flowers, it’s just gorgeous!

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    1. kate, we have it around here on the hilly, shady parts of the yard. Like you said, it’s not the best for stopping weeds, but those little flowers are so gorgeous that I’d don’t care about that. Plus now that I know its history I like it even more.

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    1. philmouse, I agree. These little flowers are a quiet dot of color after a bleak winter. I love them, but they are easy to overlook– and some Springs I forget about them entirely, poor babies. My bad.

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  3. I love periwinkle. We have some in front of our house, and I find the flowers so cheery. Ours haven’t bloomed yet (at least not last I checked–maybe I’m wrong!), but the flowers really last. We have blooms on ours up through late fall. I’m so partial to blue flowers, too.

    When we had a landscape designer work out a new design for the front of our house, she picked out a lot of native and hardy plants. She had the periwinkle torn out to make way for the new plants. For some reason, I didn’t object to this! I’m happy to say that the periwinkle is so hardy that the few roots that were missed when they were pulled up recovered, and we once more have a lush bed of it. I will not be pulling it out again! (Well, except for the stray vines that periodically work their way up the side of the foundation and into our clapboard siding.)

    Fun to learn a bit about their lore and history!

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    1. alejna, our Periwinkle blooms in the spring, just exists in the summer and then re-blooms in the fall. I happened to see that ours was in bloom when I needed to go down to the lower level of the house for something else.

      I know that some people dislike it because in some regions it can be invasive. But around here with our clay soil it stays fairly well contained in the area where you want it to be.

      Long live the Periwinkle [or whatever you want to call it]!

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  4. I love the name Periwinkle. It sounds pert and jolly. I’m surprised it isn’t a popular girl’s flower name, like Lily, Rose, Holly, or others. It would be a cute name, and the nickname Peri is cute too.

    On a related note, I read that Margaret Mitchell originally named her memorable heroine Scarlett O’Hara a flower name, Pansy. I think the change was well-made!

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    1. nance, now that you mention it, I’ve never met a Periwinkle. The actress that played Roz on Frasier was Peri Gilpin. Wonder if that was a shortened version of Periwinkle?

      Pansy O’Hara would never had made it onto the big screen! Scarlett is a much better choice.

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    1. Z-D, now there’s a lovely little project for you to do over the weekend!

      Although I think that the contrast of “dead leaf brown” to “very much alive lavender-blue” is nice. But if you think that you must rake the leaves, then far be it from me to stop you.

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    1. Andra, I love the blue, too. Some petunias and some morning glories now come in bluish shades, but when it comes to perennials not many blue ones will grow here. Makes the ones that do grow even more special, I guess.

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    1. la p, I’ve never heard of this book/movie. It sounds kind of low-key, not your typical Disney extravaganza. Of course, maybe in 1957 it was a doozy of an exciting movie featuring cartoon squirrels. Amazing that you know this, btw.

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      1. Those True-Life Adventures were on Disney’s Wonderful World of Color all the time. They also played at second run theaters with newer Disney releases in the sixties and maybe the seventies. I watched a lot of them. They weren’t cartoons but documentaries in which the animal’s behavior was anthropomorphize. Let me tell you, any animal’s death in these education films can be pretty traumatic if you are a child.

        What I found interesting about watching them as a child was how old they look to me, which is not too surprising since some of them were old. The first one was made in 1948. These films were blurry and the colors a weird combination of bright and dark. This may have been because I was watching them at second run theaters and by then the film may have been run through so many projectors as too high a heat it caused the film to melt a little. Writing about them brings back memories of the many Saturday afternoons I sat in a dark theater watching this stuff. 🙂

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        1. la p, I’ve never heard of this series. I lived in a small town where we were lucky to get first run movies, let alone second run ones. Plus my parents didn’t like Disney shows, so while I wasn’t forbidden from watching The Wonderful World of Disney my parents always seemed to have something else planned for when it was on– thereby insuring that I missed it!

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            1. I don’t know why. They thought that Disney & Barbie were silliness that should be avoided, so while I knew about both I never had much exposure to either. I saw Disney movies once in awhile & I had one Barbie, but that was it. The rest of my time was spent goofing off in different ways.

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  5. Great post. It is a pretty little plant. At the risk of being the fun police, I do want to point out that periwinkle/vinca can have invasive tendencies. In forests, it can cover the ground so effectively (the reason it’s wonderful in a yard!) that it chokes out all of the other plants.

    So, love the plant, but take special care if you’re going to plant it someplace new or where it could escape! (More info: http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/Periwinkle.pdf)

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    1. Maria, I’d heard that it could be invasive in some places, but around here it stays pretty much where you put it. Fascinating information, though. And I will keep an eye on the stuff now that I know it could turn into a problem. Thanks for sharing the link.

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