I like to accent my front yard borders with annuals for color. I use violas in the fall and winter and daffodils and sometimes tulips in early spring. For summer, I prefer a subdued color palette of black and white. My first year with these so-called non-colors, I used white Wave Petunias and Blackie Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine.
The effect was striking – for about a month. Turns out the White Waves were not as vigorous as I had hoped but oh, how Blackie loved the front yard.. and the driveway, and the grass. I spent all summer cutting Blackie back and trying to keep him from overrunning the white petunias.
Since then, I have gone to mostly white. My favorite no work annual for a sunny, somewhat dry site is vinca, also known as periwinkle. It blossoms all summer without any help from me. It requires no deadheading and no watering, except in extreme dry periods, and definitely no trimming back.
Now, along comes a plant that should be perfect for my front garden beds. I cannot wait to try it out. It is a new vinca color that is so deep purple it’s almost black. It is a 2012 AAS (All America Selection) Flower Award winner, Vinca 'Jams 'N Jellies Blackberry' (Catharanthus roseus). Just the name makes me drool. I can see it now, my black and white scheme finally looking well tended without any tending from me. Oh, joy!
I hope that there will be Vinca 'Jams 'N Jellies Blackberry' plants available at garden centers all over the U.S. this spring. I’m not taking any chances, though. I am growing it from seeds planted indoors just this week. The seeds can be found at many of the seed houses on the internet.
Vinca (periwinkle) is a tender perennial grown as an annual in most areas of the country. At ten to twenty-four inches tall, it makes a great bedding plant in the garden and an accent in containers. It is an easy bloom machine for busy gardeners with non-stop blossoms from summer to frost.
By Kate Karam for Monrovia
Photograph courtesy of Monrovia
As landscapes are getting smaller and gardeners have less time to care for them, these naturally smaller plants are taking a larger role. They look great year round, come in all kinds of shapes, forms, and colors, many are water-wise once established, and most thrive in extreme climates. However, the real reason we love them is the way they provide strong structure and play well with floriferous bounty during the growing season, becoming stars in their own right during the winter. If you live in zones 4 - 8 you have the largest range of choices, but there's something amazing for just about every zone!
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