It has become nearly as labor intensive as owning a small dog or a cat that you have to let out in the morning and bring in at eventide. My dear periwinkle plantings on the hillside at the back of our house now fill a significant portion of my available memory. I must remember at dawn to uncover them, and at nightfall to cover them again.

What’s going on here?

Periwinkle flower

Well, I decided to plant vinca minor, otherwise known as periwinkle, as a ground cover on the small slope at the base of our deck. It’s a lovely plant that produces the lavender blue flower that gives it the common name of periwinkle, a quaint, old-fashioned word it seems to me. It’s a robust little fellow that does well with an Autumnal sowing at twelve inch intervals. I carefully planted, carefully fertilized, carefully watered…and waited.

Not me, but representative…

After a week or so of adjustment to their new position in this world, my periwinkle ventured out with new shoots and tendrils reaching across the open ground. I watered some more, I weeded a bit. I was enchanted each morning to see more growth. And then, tragedy struck!

Raccoons found my vinca minor and ravaged them, tearing them up by their roots one-by-one, tossing them aside and digging deep beneath them to get at the grubs and worms my delicate periwinkle had innocently attracted. Horror! Massacre and bloodlust. A battlefield littered with dismembered bodies. I frantically replanted, re-fertilized, re-watered, and resuscitated.

I tried many defense strategies. Spotlights on the killing fields. The raccoons got used to the lights and dug with fervor. A dried blood concoction from Home Depot. Who knew such things were for sale…and who’s blood was it anyway? It stunk and was disgusting to look at the carmine red splashed across the dirt, vivifying the battle zone metaphor of my backyard. A friend told me that mountain lion urine was supposed to scare off raccoons. How the hell do you get mountain lion urine? He didn’t know. Would my own urine work?

I thought of trapping them or shooting them, but I couldn’t picturing sitting up late night and blasting away at an “innocent” creature scratching the ground for food. I considered building a chicken-wire enclosure over the hillside. But after some considerable thought, the architectural complexity of the structure overwhelmed me.

It was Netty, of course, who came upon the idea of covering them up at night and uncovering them in the morning. Her idea, but my job to do it. I staked out a large drop cloth with ropes and weights to hold it down. And it works like a charm, but a labor-intensive one.

On at twilight:





Off at dawn:





And, to be honest, my periwinkle are teaching me again the lesson I have learned countless times…keep your eyes on the goal not on the ground you travel to get there.

I see it now by next summer’s end, my beautiful hillside of lavender blue flowers. Oh My Periwinkle!

The dream state.





7 Responses to Oh My Periwinkle!

  1. […] My first little, delicate bloom from my Periwinkle appeared yesterday with another on its way. See Oh My Periwinkle to read about my valiant efforts to fight off Raccoons and save my Periwinkles from […]

  2. George says:

    Frank – Good luck! Reminds me of the perwinkle we had on the hillside above the driveway at the Tendilla house. Good memories – beautiful. GG

  3. Cheryl says:

    Oh, Frank, I do hope that your periwinkles will look just like your dream state! You deserve to be able to observe their beauty and the benefit of your hard and dedicated work.

  4. Frank Z says:

    Hey, glad you liked it! There is drama everywhere in my world…and yours, too, I’ll bet!

  5. Stephanie says:

    Only you could bring out the complexity and the drama of gardening. I love it and love the humor, too.


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