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Vinca minor

Otherwise known as Vinca, I happen to like the name “periwinkle”. When searching for some kind of annual flower that would possibly make it through the summer–through heat and drought–there were very few possibilities. The two options pointed out to me at my favorite nursery were zinnias and gomphrenas. I went back a couple weeks later and the tables were scattered with periwinkle, which I had read would take the heat. (The periwinkles in the photo below are from the “Pacifica” series.)

I gathered up a tray full of light pinks, some with lighter centers and others with a bright pink center, and planted them straight away for fear that my mid-May plantings might be a bit late anyway. Thank goodness we’ve had a mild and rainy spring (2007)… it might give them a chance to establish.

I’m still trying to figure out how to fill in my front bed which wraps around our porch. It gets shade almost all morning and into the early afternoon, but especially in mid-to-late summer gets all late afternoon direct sun. A very bad situation for most plants (and people) but thankfully there is a large pecan over this bed which is growing a new big branch that will probably one day shade the bed all day.

Anyhow, I don’t like a lot of annuals… perhaps I’ll change my mind some day. I don’t like petunias or marigolds much. But I do like these periwinkles–they’re dainty, small and delicate. I’m realizing my need for annuals because there are just some places that will always look scanty, especially between seasons.

Update November 2008: The vinca planted in 2007 looked pretty straggly by the end of that summer. Although it rained quite a bit the plants languished in the shade. I’m still on a hunt for good summer annuals, and ones that do fine in shade. That may be a losing battle, and even annuals can be a losing battle in summer, especially after this one, where the only survivor after 3 months of drought and intense heat was the gomphrena.