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A Cautionary Tale.


Do you grow Vinca? I do, and my goodness, it is such a thug! I should have learned by now to keep it under control, but it seems to grow…and root itself…and grow…ad infinitum.

I have ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ running amok over a Hebe…

‘Jenny Pym’ taking over a trellis and wandering over a wall and into the next bed…

Vinca major under various shrubs in the shade…

and oh dear – my very pretty double flowered mauve one. Vinca minor ‘Flore Pleno’.

Why ‘oh dear’? Well, if you don’t control it, this is what happens to the flower bed.

Not a pretty sight, with ‘past it’ Penstemons showing through the Vinca and Lithodora carpet.

Last week, although the Vinca was in flower, I decided to tackle the mess. What a job! Did you know that Lithodora roots go to Australia? They spread underground as well as by runners, and they had started taking over the gravel paths as well as the bed. Vinca, of course, spreads by rooting its runners.

The first day I filled the wheelbarrow three times and broke two nails. Hmmph!

I discovered a brave Geranium under the carpet, and dug it out and potted it up. I had decided to save a lovely clump of Brodiaea ‘Konigin Fabiola’ so I left that, but some rather pretty Centaurea Montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’ are looking very bedraggled after being smothered. As for the Penstemons, they were almost dead, so out they came.

I think that’s barrow full number 5 in the photo – I couldn’t empty it as I’d filled the trailer so OH had to go to the tip.

On to the next day’s work. I brought two barrow loads of compost over from the bin and dug it in.

Those empty pots are there to represent three little Lupins I’ve been growing on in the greenhouse, and three Campanula ‘Iribella’ I got recently.

Off to the Garden Centre with my list – I’d decided on a blue/mauve/white colour scheme. My trip was a success – I got the very last Clem. ‘Blue Angel’ they had, and some other lovely plants including the Centaurea ‘Cara Mia’ I had last year which was such a good do-er.

What else did I get? Three Delphinium elatum ‘Moonlight’, three Geranium ’Johnson’s Blue’, two Aquilegia ‘Virginia’, two Salvia ‘Caradonna’ and a pretty Polemonium ‘Lambrook Mauve’.

I spent all yesterday afternoon planting everything and the bed still isn’t full, but I’m hoping to get some Viola cornuta from a small Nursery that’s only open on Thursdays. They stock ‘Elworthy Bright Eyes’ which is perfect…in fact, they bred it!

My cautionary tale is at an end for the moment. If you are a new gardener, please be warned – Vinca can take over your garden! ‘Old’ hands will already know that, but I thought I was, and look what happened when I left that bed to its own devices!

Now – which Vinca shall I tackle next?

More blog posts by spritzhenry

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Oh my,Spritz,what a mammoth task!I bet you thought it felt never ending..As lovely as the Vinca's are,they really are thugs,aren't they? You are going to have a lovely display with all your new plants,and you have chosen one of my favourite colour schemes..:o) .

20 Apr, 2015


survival of the bully by the look of it Spritz ?
such a lot of hard work for you getting that lot out, such a daunting task....
still its done now and lots of room for the beauties you've chosen

I think you deserve coffee and cake x

20 Apr, 2015


I've got a similar problem but not with vinca - My pain is a pink hardy Geranium and sorry to say I've lost the tag and can't remember it's name to warn you all!!! It's gone absolutely mad and I feel so cruel digging it up too!!!

20 Apr, 2015


Like you I consider myself an 'old' gardener and well aware of the dangers of invasive plants. However we all succumb at some point. Last year's effort was a tall yellow plant, could have been an Inula, or not, growing to 5-6ft. Would look good as a background I thought! The grower forgot to mention it spread like Vinca, needed staking with something akin to the frames put round small trees to deter deer and still escaped to flop all over the lawn! It has been moved to a forgotten spot at the back of the pond, but will still need staking - and it's still coming up in the original place. I also have the yellow Lamium, planted under some conifers as I thought it would be one of the few things to grow there - it has and spread everywhere else. I also have patches of the variegated Vinca!

20 Apr, 2015


Yes I agree very difficult once established to control I think the common name is Periwinkle even if you think you have dug it all out you only have to leave a small amount of root in and away it goes again.

20 Apr, 2015


I have a pink hardy geranium which is a thug, it is called Claridge Druce, and they pop up everywhere even in cracks in the paving, and they have sturdy roots that are difficult to pull out.

20 Apr, 2015


I can confirm that vinca 'Illuminator' is just as bad. It was suppressing weeds at the back of the border, but nearly suppressed everything else as well. Now thinned to one crown.

20 Apr, 2015


I bought Gertrude Jekyll last year to disguise the edge of my pond. It doesn't seem to be doing much of anything yet this year - should that be "I'm happy to say that it doesn't seem to have taken over yet"?

20 Apr, 2015


Its biding its time Urbanite....untl you're not looking ?

20 Apr, 2015


I have vinca minor which has just started to "take off" thanks for the warning.

20 Apr, 2015


My problem is also a small pink hardy Geranium that I fight each year. My Vinca is growing where I want it to at the moment but I will keep an eye on it.

20 Apr, 2015


I'd say a lot of us have a few cautionary tales to tell Spritz, its a lesson thats often learnt the hard way, I do have quite a few patches of vinca but luckily mine is in the dogrun area, anything in there has to be of the bounce back variety, thankfully I was never tempted to move any into the main garden, my biggest mistake is a daisylike plant that I was given many years ago and planted a piece along one side of the fishpond, it spread rapidly and some has entangled itself amongst the hydranga so no chance of removing it completely, I pull handsful of it out on a regular basis as its trying to spread amongst the gravelled bed, obviously I daren't use a weedkiller anywhere near the pond, it does however look quite attractive when in flower...
That bed is going to be lovely when all in bloom, I know its no consolation but I too have lost my nice looking winter nails and now have short gardeners ones, just cannot get on with the gloves, lol.....

20 Apr, 2015


Don't seem to have a problem with my Vinca - yet, but Geranium ' Love Lace' different story.

20 Apr, 2015


I went looking to see if there is a page in goypaedia for potential thug plants. I did not find one but I did find your struggle in 2010 to keep it under control. It is so easy to take your eye off the ball and Vinca just shoots away. I can hear how delighted you are to be able to design a new bed. It will help dispel the frustration at all the hard work you have done and all that still needs doing. You have our sympathy but we enjoy the challenges and solutions you show us.

20 Apr, 2015


Thank you all for your understanding - I do think that any potential 'invasive' plant should have a label that at least gives a warning to buyers. Then if people still like it, they'd have that crucial information and it's up to them! At the GC on Saturday there were rows and rows of pretty Vincas all in flower, and people were buying them! EEK!

Honeysuckle, I inherited that Lamium (galeobdolon) and also lots of pink Geraniums with no name - I haven't yet succeeded in getting rid of them! I wonder what your yellow plant is?

Yes, at least I have the compensation of a pretty bed to look out on, rather than that awful mess. I glued one of my nails back on, by the way, haha.

21 Apr, 2015


Scotsgran there was a long blog about thugs , I think it was last year - we all seemed to have at least one! Min e is the pink geranium too - have steered clear of vinca although its so pretty. Spritz, just reading about your barrowloads made me feel tired! and i thought I had had a busy day in the garden...

21 Apr, 2015


Now I have a bone to pick with you lady!!! You very generously gave me 3 of these vincas. mind you so far so good. I think you may have warned me about Gertrude ! They are not a nuisance yet :o)

21 Apr, 2015


Not only it can overtake your garden but it can overtake several acres of your forest. As some people show the blue bell forest floor, ours is covered with vinca. We have both vinca minor and major. I also have a problem with Lysimachia nummularia (creeping jenny) Several wheelbarrow loads every couple of years. I have to be careful how I dispose these plants as they want to grow where I pile them.

22 Apr, 2015


Well, Sbg, Yes, I did warn you, but you would have them...

Klahanie, it doesn't *really* surprise me how far it can spread!!!

Stera, was that blog one of mine? I do remember it...

22 Apr, 2015


yes I know but at least I know what to look out for. The Jekyll one is bouncing into the lower stems of the climbing hydrangea and looks pretty at the moment. :o)

22 Apr, 2015


Can't remember now Spritz - it was a really popular one though.

22 Apr, 2015


I will check. Sbg, did I send you a piece of the double mauve one as well?

Yes, Stera, I wrote one on 'Triffids in the Garden' in 2014.

23 Apr, 2015


I have jenny Pym and a deep purple double that I think may have come from you or I bought it at Reighton gc. I don't have a pale double. I have single V. minor in blue and the white and the white is a variegated leaf.
They have both slowly covered part of a bed where S parks the van and until I have the time to do anything else at lease it s keeping the weeds down.

23 Apr, 2015


Yes, that's the one.

23 Apr, 2015


People were interested in the Triffids, weren't they!

I need to start battling with Gertrude Jekyll (again!) as she is trying to take over in two places. :-( Then it will be Jenny next...

25 Apr, 2015


It's an invasive weed in my opinion that is as bad as Ivy! One of my pet hates.

20 Oct, 2015


Some of them definitely are. :-(

21 Oct, 2015

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