"In the language of flowers, the periwinkle is the symbol of pleasures of memory and early friendship."
Periwinkle or Creeping Vinca or Myrtle (Vinca minor) is a dense forming ground cover excellent for erosion control and can often be seen growing around foundations or down embankments. It was introduced into North America in the 1700's as an ornamental. It grows best in partial shady areas which is why if it escapes cultivated areas can be a problem when it covers the forest floor. It is very hardy and drought resistant so if it likes where it is established, can compete with native species.
Personally, I love this plant, as it brings back a lot of memories of my childhood home. My mother originally got her starts from her own mother and over the years it wound its way around the house and the little summerhouse that was at one time used for the summer canning season.
When I had my own children and discovered Sharon Lovejoy's books on gardening with children, I loved the flower stories and little games that could be played.
This is the story of the periwinkle as is told in the book "Sunflower Houses" by Sharon Lovejoy:
PERRY WINKLE'S PAINT BRUSH
The first Spring descended upon the earth, and all of the new, young animals and shimmering green plants and trees were healthy and happy. The view from a hilltop across mile after mile of wildflowers with all different blossom and leaf shapes revealed one startling, glaringly obvious thing. Somehow, the finishing touch had been overlooked! All the flowers were one color-WHITE!
The very last flower to have been created was the humble periwinkle. thus, he was the one called upon to solve the problem of coloring all of the flowers.
"Goodness gracious," said Perry in a small, blue voice. "I am depressed. There is just no way a little flower like me could color all the flowers in the world."
"Perry," a deep, soft voice resounded, "what you need is a little faith! In this world everyone has a job and is expected to work. The job for you and your family will be to paint all the flowers every color to be found on our earth and in our sky."
"But how can I do such a thing? There are not enough brushes or paint in the world to color the millions of flowers you have strewn on this planet," Perry said in a defeated tone.
"The rainbow will be your never-ending supply of colors. And listen closely: Slip your petals off, and you will see that I have given every periwinkle in my kingdom its very own paintbrush."
This is the magical part while telling your child this story. When you slip off the last pale blue petal you will discover the tiniest, most fairy-like paintbrush imaginable!
After gently removing the petals, carefully take off the outer wrapping of the pistil/stamen and you'll find the little paintbrush. Children love this story and will never see this simple flower the same way again.