Saturday, June 27, 2020


She looks so sweet and innocent, but oh, is she devious.  She doesn't exactly tell you all about herself in the very beginning.  She is a believer in the bait and hook philosophy of life.

We were still comparatively new to the idiosyncrasies of gardening in Central Oregon when we moved from 80 acres in Tumalo and alfalfa growing, to 2 acres in Bend with a beautiful natural lava flow that had been crafted into a rock garden with additional soil.  It was obvious it has not been created through a process of moving some big rocks and then adding some smaller rocks but rather it had been created by enhancing the natural beauty right out the back door.  I was thrilled.  

The move was in early April when planting fever is really taking hold and I had a blank canvas to work with.  I had read about Vinca minor, periwinkle and sometimes called myrtle, as being hardy to Zone 4, appears to be deer resistant plus it blooms in April.  Who could ask for anything more?

The information I read was probably in a glossy seed catalog with color enhanced photos.  Unfortunately the write up failed to mention that the plant is an aggressive ground cover.  That is a great attribute if you are filling the need for finding a plant for erosion control.  However, it's not so great in a natural formation of lava rock with all its crevices and irregularities.

The plant growth can be described as mat-forming with 3 to 6 inches of ground trailing stems that can reach 18 inches in length.  It roots at the nodes where stems come in contact with soil (it seemed even in a minuscule amount).

The first three years were passable as long as I  kept a vigilant eye on the growth and kept the plants in check.  By the fourth year Miss Periwinkle decided she was in control.  She crept over the rocks and under the rocks, making the removal of roots an exhausting chore.  I've given up on trying to maintain the back side of the rockery.  I had planned on a massive dig when the grandsons reached the show off the muscles and high energy stage, thinking it would be this summer.  The self-quarantine has saved Miss Periwinklefor another year.

So the moral of this story is to thoroughly research any landscape materials you buy BEFORE you make the purchase.  List the purpose of the plant, at maturity will it fit the space intended, how much care  is involved to keep it looking good.

Yes, I will admit that it was fun to see the bright green leaves and perky blue blossoms in the very early spring but there was a price to pay and as I grow older, the price gets higher each year!

Be sure to listen to the Gardening: Get Good at It "Critter Control" segment on Tues. June 30 on KPOV 88.9 FM between 9-9:30 a m.




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