Best Evergreen Floor Plants


A Suitable Plant for Memorial Day : Vinca

 The word ‘Vinca’ can be derived from the Italian verb ‘Vincere’,

which refers to success by winning or conquering,
whether I, you, he or she.

The Vincas are a seriously reliable and handsome Genus of plants,
so it is easy to think of them being referred to as lauded ‘winners’.

Some sources find derivations for Vinca’s name in the Latin ‘vincio’,
to bind or to band, the reference perhaps derived from the use of myrtle strands
wreathed together to make crowns,
worn in honor of a success or an occasion.

So my blended thoughts of Vinca went to those who honorably
won over the world for all the right reasons
and deserve every wreath of gratitude we can provide.

Crowns for our American Veterans,
who by persevering
have given us the world as we know it.

Vinca Gertrude Jekyll's white

 The Best of the Vincas

Vinca minor Gertrude Jekyll's white, Euphorbia Chamaeleon
Vinca minor alba ‘Gertrude Jekyll’

In my view, perhaps the most beautiful and useful of Myrtles is Vinca minor alba ‘Gertrude Jekyll’. This favoritism has developed because her glossy evergreen leaves are smaller than those of most Vincas, and so the overall texture made by the colony is finer and neater than other kinds. Spreading and mounding at just 8” high, her gracefully entwined foliage makes a neat, all year, low maintenance floor. This kind of Vinca grows by rooting along her leafy strands, and so she is easy to increase, but that habit means you will have to blow or hand clean, not rake, the beds she lives in. If you over sprinkle a top dressing of composty loam once a year or so, and tuck in Gertrude’s outreaching strands, you will soon have a respectable colony.

Growing in part shade as they often do, Gertrude’s white flowers brighten the woodland margin in late April through mid-May. Miss Jekyll herself even used this plant under hedges. She can also thrive in a sunny location when plenty of water is provided.

The evergreen V. m. Gertrude Jekyll provides a fine textured shiny background for the many prior and subsequent picture events that will overlay the floor blanket her colonies make. Within the bounds of each shining colony other, more deeply rooted kinds of perennial plants and bulbs can appear and disappear, Jack in the Box style.

If you would worry that you might miss the typical blue flowers of the myrtle clan, it would be easy to have plenty of flattering blues nearby using various Pulmonarias, Fragrant Dutch  Hyacinths or the little blue grape Hyacinths that bloom around the same time in similar habitats.

Vinca m. argenteovariegata
Vinca minor argenteovariegata

For variegated green and white leaves, the only attractive and reliable Myrtle I have found is Vinca minor argenteovariegata. It has a pronounced white outline and its offshoots do not typically revert to green. The foliage will light up a shady place and give you blue flowers in May. Like Gertrude, this form has a root-as-you-go habit, making a strong colony. It earned an award of garden merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.

Vinca Ralph ShugertVinca minor Ralph Shugert

For bicolor leaves Vinca minor Ralph Shugert is handsome, but it’s more of a clumping than a running kind of Myrtle, and increases more slowly than the two kinds above. Though often referred to as white, the outline of its green leaves is more of a parchment yellow color to my eye.

While this plant  looks great in the nursery pot, and is thus very popular in the trade, many offshoots of this variety disappointingly revert to all green leaves as you can see in the above photo, so I don’t use Ralph much.

The Myrtle Clan

Vincas have almost no pests and even the deer don’t favor them as edibles, but they may not be a good solution if you have sizeable dogs. As their paws wander around innocently, they tend to pull up Vinca’s shallowly rooted stems.

The larger leaved all green forms of Vinca minor can be used very successfully as groundcover in a large landscape, but maintenance shearing is recommended to help keep the colonies looking neat and fresh.

Vinca minor
Ellen Cool

This entry was posted in Garden Making Guidance, Plant Portraits and Stories, Things They Never Tell You, Your Reasoned Landscape and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
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