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This is a Vinca minor, a creeper or a vine found in our yard below. It is peeping up slightly above the rhododendron tsutsuji bushes, so you don’t actually see its leaves. More info below about the Vinca plant by Linda Inoki.



Tsurugikyo (Periwinkle or Vinca)




Wrens dip in and out of the brambles, A robin swoops across our path, Bent on his favorite perch. But the clear-eyed periwinkle Heeds neither wing-beat, nor footfall Nor the sweet piercing of the robin’s song. For it is busy: Scanning winter skies, Casting off the cold earth And twirling soft blue propellers On its journey to Spring.  


By Linda Inoki 

At the first hint of spring, periwinkles send out a few tentative blooms. Although the main flowering time is March and April, I picked the above spray on a mild day last week. Most garden periwinkles are developed from two Vinca species, V. major and V. minor, with flowers from 3 to 4 cm across in pale blue, lavender and occasionally white. The Japanese name tsurugikyo means “climbing bellflower,” although they are not related. The English name comes from the Latin per vincula, which means “bind about,” because the plant sends out strong, wiry stems. These creep about and take root where they touch the ground. Periwinkles are tough plants that can survive in dry, shady spots and so they are often planted beneath trees. However, they have two drawbacks. One is that they spread quickly, and in California, for example, V. major has invaded riverbanks, forcing out native wildflowers and harboring pesky insects such as glassy-winged sharpshooters. The other problem is that they are poisonous. Periwinkles are in the Apocynaceae family of plants, which includes the equally lovely (and deadly) oleander.

The Japan Times: Jan. 18, 2006

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