Vinca the Deathless

Dear Inconstant Weeder!

When the cold doldrums melt and your bird-filled backyard makes itself apparent greenly, you find a garden helper to make the backyard pretty before the hot doldrums set in and you lose interest in that mosquito sauna, right?
And you say to your garden helper: weed my periwinkle bed. Take out all the grassy things, and the sticky things, and the fuzzy heads – but keep all the periwinkles, don’t touch the periwinkles, don’t molest, disturb, agitate or offend the peri-winkie-winkeelees, for I love them!
There are things you should know about your treasured periwinkles.
One, periwinkle, or vinca minor, is virtually deathless. It forms clonal colonies by sending out troops of rootlets along its stems. That three-acre mat of vinca you once saw? Just one big genetically solid mama. If you make a hole in the mat, vinca will close the hole right up in one season. Vinca covers vast areas, if unchecked, and smothers most enemies. Vinca sheds foliar herbicide sprays mostly unharmed, because vinca’s leaves are nice and waxy. The only environmentally responsible way to grow vinca in North America is to grow it surrounded by concrete, in a prison with no openings into natural areas.
We hope this is exactly how you grow it.
Two, vinca’s rootlets grow above the roots of the grassy things, and the roots of the sticky things, and the roots of the fuzzy things. They make a net right under the surface of the soil, and the plants that dare – dandelions always dare! – grow through that net.
Imagine that you made a pot of stew, and as you serve it, your dinner guest says: scoop me up some of those tasty mushrooms from the bottom of the pot, just don’t break the surface!
Pulling dandelions in a bed of periwinkles without pulling out a few periwinkles is a beautiful dream.
It is like deathless romance.
It ain’t gonna happen.

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