Hepatica nobilis

Hepatica nobilis           Family: Ranunculaceae
(hi-PAT-ih-kuh  no-BILL-iss)

Common name: liverwort; liverleaf
Zone: 4 – 8
Height: 4-6 in (10-15cm)   Spread: 6-12 in (15-30cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade; full shade
Soil: moderate; well-draining

Description: An evergreen, clump-forming perennial with kidney-shaped, 3-lobed leaves that are glossy green on top and a purple hue underneath. Showy violet-blue flowers with 6 – 7 sepals and conspicuous white stamens appear in March through April.


Special Notes: Native to Asia, central and northern Europe and eastern North America. Once established, this plant forms a lovely clump of green leaves which look great as an understory plant or as a wonderful specimen in your landscape design, holding interest for the viewer as surrounding perennials shine and fade through the season.

Recommend cutting back old leaves in late winter in order to enjoy the early spring flowers and give exposure to newly emerging, fresh leaves.

Propagate by fresh seed sown in place in spring. Needs stratification in order to germinate. Dig up and divide larger clumps after flowering or in autumn.

Reliably disease- and pest-resistant, as well as deer and rabbit resistant.

Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit 1993


In our Zone 7a garden: This plant is a favourite in our landscape design for its year-round interest and bright floral display that appears early in spring when it is sorely needed. Very easy care needing only to be cut back in late winter and divided every 8 – 10 years to keep it happy amongst its neighbouring plants. There have been absolutely no disease or pest problems with hepaticas and the odd rabbit who gets into the garden leaves this plant alone.


Posted on July 31, 2021


Ajuga reptans BLACK SCALLOP

Ajuga reptans BLACK SCALLOP     Family: Lamiaceae
(ah-JEW-gah  REP-tanz)
syn. Ajuga reptans ‘Binblasca’ PBR

Common name: bugleweed; carpet bugleweed
Zone: 4 – 9 
Height: 3-6 in (7.5-15 cm)   Spread: 6-24 in (15-60 cm)
Aspect: sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: moderate     

Description: An evergreen groundcover with glossy, dark maroon-purple to almost black, scalloped-edged leaves and a dense habit. Short, upright, spikes of dark violet, fragrant flowers four to six inches tall (10 – 15 cm) appear in mid- to late spring.

Special Notes: The genus Ajuga is native to Europe. BLACK SCALLOP is a mutation of Ajuga reptans ‘Braunherz’, discovered in an in-vitro nursery laboratory in 1998 and subsequently isolated to be developed and introduced as a new cultivar, Ajuga reptans ‘Binblasco’ PBR. U.S. Plant Patent was issued in June 2005. (PBR – Plant Breeder Registration)

BLACK SCALLOP tends to have a more compact habit than some of the other Ajuga cultivars. Plant where it will get more sun for deep, rich foliage colour but plants will require watering more often. In hotter climates, give it a little more shade from the sun.

Propagate by cutting the stolon, or plantlet, growing out from the mother plant to start a new plant. BLACK SCALLOP does not come true from seed.

Crown rot can be a problem if ajugas are allowed to grow too densely. Divide clumps every few years to thin the planting out. Aphids, slugs, snails and whiteflies can also be occasionally problematic. And while it is not unheard of for cucumber mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus to attack ajugas, there have been no reports of these viruses found on BLACK SCALLOP. However, remove the plants if you see these viruses and bag them for the garbage.

In our Zone 7a garden: We now have a few patches of BLACK SCALLOP in our landscape and we love them! Absolutely the best-behaved ajuga to plant in your garden for its dark leaves and dark violet flowers.


Posted on February 3, 2021
Updated on February 27, 2024


Viola odorata

Viola odorata flowers Viola odorata Family: Violaceae
(vi-OH-lah oh-dor-AY-tah)
Common name: sweet violet; English violet; wood violet; garden violet
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 4-6 in (10-15 cm) Spread: 12-18 in (30-45 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade; full shade
Soil: sand; loam; clay; well-drained
Water: moderate
Description: Hardy, rhizomatous perennial with deep green, roughly heart-shaped leaves appearing in late winter. Fragrant flowers are either deep violet or white and appear in early spring. Disease and pest resistant. Propagation is from seed and spreading stolons, or rhizomatous roots.


Special Notes: Originally native to Asia and Europe, the early settlers carried specimens with them to Australia and North America where the specie has become established. The fragrant flowers are very important to the perfume industry in southern France where the flowers are also harvested for use in making flavourings, toiletries, and the violet-coloured liqueur called Parfait d’Amour.

The whole plant contains salicylic acid…the main ingredient in aspirin…which may be why the ancient Greeks wore garlands of flowers on their heads during festivals to thwart dizziness and headache brought on by imbibing too liberally. The leaves contain antiseptic compounds and have been used as poultices or added to ointments for centuries. Infusing them in a tea or making a syrup has long been a remedy for coughs.

The flowers have a mild laxative effect. Roots and seeds contain purgative properties. Herbalists have long recommended the use of a liniment made from violet roots and vinegar to cure spleen disorders and ease the pain caused by gout.

More recently, it has been discovered throat cancer patients who drink violet leaf infusions have realized relief from pain caused by their treatment. Reportedly, there have actually been several cures of this cancer by drinking leaf infusions.

The edible flowers can be added raw to salads, made into dainty crystallized candies for decorating cakes, made into a delicate violet jelly (recipe here), added to vinegar for colour, or fermented for a sweet wine.

An infusion of sweet violet flowers can also be used as a substitute for litmus paper to determine pH. When it comes into contact with alkaline substances, the colour of the infusion turns green. Acid substances will turn the infusion colour red.


Viola odorataIn our Zone 7a garden: I am particularly fond of sweet violets, Viola odorata, as their delicate scent reminds me of my granny. I originally placed three or four clumps around my front garden and over the ensuing years they have gently spread. Some are in the lawn, some in full shade, some in part shade, and a lovely patch has grown up in my Rosa rugosa hedge where it is slowly reaching out to the boulevard. This patch is growing is almost pure sand…with only the barest of soil to found. I never water out there and it receives the hottest sun of the day. For this reason it will languish in the summer months but not before I have picked its flowers for my varied uses.

For some gardeners, sweet violets are too invasive for their preferences. John will not have them in his garden for this reason. However, any wayward plants are very easily removed if the patch gets too rambunctious.


Note: None of the medicinal claims are meant to be followed without the express knowledge of your doctor or a certified herbalist. Please act responsibly in regards to your health.


Posted on April 18, 2017



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