Vinca difformis ‘Jenny Pym’
This Vinca grows two sorts of shoots, hence its name difformis. One shoot is long and barren, the other much shorter, upright up to 30cm tall and bears the flowers. These upright shoots are clustered and in Vinca difformis ‘Jenny Pym’ carry pink flowers with a distinct white central region. Vinca difformis is quite similar to Vinca major in many respects, differing most significantly in its habit of flowering right from Autumn, through mild Winter spells to Spring. Vinca difformis is not as hardy as the more common species but is reliable in the South West and good elsewhere with the shelter of a wall.
Periwinkle – Vinca
Lesser Periwinkle has more congested growth than either of the two larger evergreen species, making the best choice for ground cover. There is pale ring around each flower’s throat.
There is something quite curious about the flowers of the periwinkle that is not immediately obvious, but quite striking when you look at it more closely. The petals are peculiar in not being symmetrical. If you divide each petal from the centre of the flower to the point you will find that the left lobe is far larger than the right lobe. This is a situation that is in fact very unusual in the plant world.
Over 90 separate alkyloids have been isolated from Vinca, many quite toxic. All parts of the plant are poisonous, though in the garden they are unlikely to cause any bother. Just don’t go chewing them. The closely related Madagascar Periwinkle, Catharanthus contains the alkyloids vinblastine and vincristine, both used to produce drugs that are useful in targetting certain cancers.
Vinca derives from the Latin ‘vincio’ = to bind. Thius refers to the use of the long shoots to tie things together and for their use twining around wreaths.