Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the annual celebration of green, I thought I’d look in the garden to see what’s green on March 17th. There are plenty of little shoots, some iris and daylilies and bulbs getting started. But for plants that are well underway, looking like their full-grown selves, you have to check out the groundcovers. The periwinkle (Vinca spp, sometimes also called Creeping Myrtle) is good to go as soon as the snow melts back. Renowned for its weed-smothering abilities, this low-grower is a vigorous creeper that tolerates shade and is often used under trees or on difficult-to-maintain banks. At this time of year, its shiny, dark-green leaves are pretty attractive.
On the whole, I prefer the pachysandra (aka Japanese Spurge). Like the periwinkle, it is up and running, so to speak, as soon as the snow melts back. Its not quite as aggressive and dense as the periwinkle, and has a more upright habit. I find it’s light green, toothed leaves interesting. Like periwinkle, pachysandra is often grown in areas of deep shade. It won’t be too long before the periwinkle is producing its periwinkle-blue flowers. But the pachysandra has it beat hands down. Although its clusters of small white flowers aren’t as impressive as those of periwinkle, they’re already getting ready to bloom! Now, that’s an early start.