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Vinca and Surfinia

Posted Nov 21 2008 3:08pm
I love periwinkles and nearly always have someof them on the balcony in July and August. Their name comes from the Russian apparently – pervinka, meaning first flower. That presumably refers to the little blue creeping ones, Vinca minor. The ones I use, Vinca Rosea, appear in our local garden centre at the beginning of July. They don’t seem to get attacked by pests and diseases and are great for filling in holes left in containers because other thingshave died. This year though I’ve put them all together, and they’re just a mass of flowers.

But although they’re easy to maintain, I don’t find them easy to grow. I tried again this year using seeds from last years flowers, but failed miserably. The book said to sow in March at about 20° and keep them in the dark for three weeks. That meant in the house, as the temperature outside in March is nowhere near that – especially this year, when we had a long cold winter. So they lived under the bed for a while, but to no avail. It may have been the seed or the method, I’m not sure. I’ll try again next year.

Another “bought” success this year has been my yellow surfinia. I saw it in a roadside florist’s kiosk and couldn’t resist. I’d heard they were delicate, so didn’t have very high hopes, but it’s been wonderful. It’s quadrupled in size and has flowered non-stop, so I’ve spent half the summer dead-heading. I usually prefer ordinary petunias to surfinia, as I’ve found them a bit straggly in the past, but this one is so bushy that I’ve had to change its position – at the beginning I had it on the inside of the balcony, but after a few weeks could hardly get past it. So it’s now trailing over the balustrade. The only thing I hate about it is that, like all petunias, it’s incredibly sticky. The grower who manages to develop a non-sticky petunia is set to make a fortune ….
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