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If you don’t fancy ripping up rampant species, Vinca minor could be an ideal choice. David Overend reports.

The word ‘rampant’ can be a bit of a worry when it’s applied to a garden plant. So if you have a bit of shady (or sunny) land where you think a ground-coverer is needed, but you don’t want to have to spend time ripping up a ‘rampant’ species, choose carefully when you opt for Vinca (periwinkle).

Pick V major and you will probably regret it, although in the right place it is a very useful and reliable plant, suppressing weeds and providing round-the-year foliage and occasional, but not particularly outstanding flowers. But V minor is a different matter altogether.

And the variegated version, with green leaves edged with white and lovely little blue flowers, will grace any garden. It grows relatively slowly, is easy to handle and propagate and can even be used to clothe the outside of hanging-baskets. It will thrive in just about any soil and situation. It’s also a hardy little beggar, capable of the worst the British winter can throw at it, and quite happy to grow on a north-facing site where the sun rarely shines.

It also has the attractive habit of throwing out the occasional flower when you least expect it – a little beacon of colour in December or January, for instance – before the real blooming time begins in early spring.

It is unbelievable that many garden centres sell this plant for as much as £8 a pot when it is probably among the easiest of things to propagate – dig it up, split it, replant it and it will grow again like greased lightning.

It’s dirt cheap and it’s very cheerful, so before you damage your wallet or purse, find a friend or neighbour who is willing to share.

The same applies to Pulmonaria (lungwort) another cheap and cheerful plant which spreads readily but which commands a staggeringly high price. If you asked it nicely enough, I’m sure it would agree to propagate itself and multiply its numbers without charging you a fiver a pot.

But I digress – back to V minor.

If you aren’t into the colour blue, there are several forms which produce white flowers, although they are harder to track down than the blue-bloomed forms. ‘Bowles’ White’ has large white flowers which start off almost pink, while ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ is covered with numerous small white blooms.

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