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The charming periwinkle, also called myrtle, has a long history. Originally a native of southern Europe, plants were brought over by the colonists, and now it has naturalized over much of the Northeast. "Periwinkle" is thought to be an old Slavic word, pervinka, meaning "first" and referring to the early spring flowers. Perennials Image Gallery Description of periwinkle: Periwinkle is a trailing plant about 6 inches high with small, oval, opposite, dark green, shiny, evergreen leaves. In spring, 5-petaled flowers, about 3/4-inch in diameter, are borne on short stems in a lovely shade of blue.