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An evergreen trailing shrub rarely more than 6 in. above the ground, forming in time a dense mat; stems glabrous, wiry. Leaves oval, or slightly obovate, always tapered at the base; 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, quite glabrous and of a deep glossy green on both sides. Flowers 1 in. across, bright blue, produced from April until autumn in the leaf-axils of the young growths. Corolla-lobes obovate; calyx glabrous, its lobes about 1⁄8 in. long.
Native of southwest and central Europe, Asia Minor and the Caucasus. Like V. major, it is found apparently wild in England, but is doubtless an escape from cultivation. It is, of course, easily distinguished from that species by the smaller flowers, whose calyx-lobes are shorter and broader, and by the smaller narrow-based leaves.
V. minor makes a neater and closer ground-cover than V. major and is very useful for steep banks, so long as they are not exposed to the hottest sun. In deep shade it will form dense weed-proof mats of indefinite extent, but does not flower much under such conditions. Even in lighter conditions its flowers tend to be concealed by the old foliage, except at the edge of the colony, so some trimming is desirable in early spring, if plants are grown primarily for their flowers. It is an interesting feature of both this species and V. major that the growths produce flowers only in their first year, though they may live and elongate for more than one, eventually reaching the ground and rooting, to give a flowering-shoot the next year. But much of the work of extending the colony is done by horizontal shoots, which may run along the ground for a considerable distance before rooting.
Those receiving an Award of Merit in the Wisley trials were: ‘Argenteo-variegata’, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, ‘La Grave’, f. atropurpurea and the following:
cv. ‘Azurea Flore Pleno’. – Flowers double, light violet blue. The plant was entered under this name, which is preferable to ‘Plena’ as there are several double-flowered mutations.
Leaves edged with light yellow. Flowers white.
Leaves striped and margined with yellow. Flowers blue. ‘Alba Variegata’ is sometimes sold under this name.
V. minor alba West
V. minor atropurpurea Sw.
V. m. flore puniceo Lodd. ex Loud.
V. m. var. punicea Bean
V. m. purpurea Hort