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


Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’

Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’  Family: Geraniaceae
(jer-AY-nee-um  FAY-um)
syn. Geranium phaeum var. phaeum ‘Samobor’
Common name: mourning widow; dusky cranesbill
Zone: 4 – 9
Height: 24-30 in (60-76 cm)   Spread: 18-24 in (45-60 cm)
Aspect: partial shade; full shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: moderate

An herbaceous, clump-forming perennial. Deeply incised, palmate bright green leaves display a large, dark maroon-black splotch in their centre which splays outward towards the leaf tips. Appearing in May to June, the small-sized flowers are held aloft on upright slender stems and are an almost perfect colour match for the leaf splotch.

Special Notes: This cultivar of the species was discovered in 1990 by Elizabeth Strangman in a Kent nursery. It is one of the few geraniums which actually thrives in almost full shade. While tolerant of most soil types as well as wet and dry conditions, ‘Samobor’ will excel if given fertile soil and moderate water.

Relatively low maintenance plant. When flowers are finished, either cut the spent stems back to the basal leaf or cut the entire clump back to one or two inches above the soil. The plant will rejuvenate and perhaps provide another flush of flowers in September.

Good resistance to diseases and pests, including slugs and rabbits. Deer may nibble on the leaves.


In our Zone 7a garden: John has a lovely clump of ‘Samobor’ under a tall Pieris japonica where it does not receive any sun…unless it is from a setting sun at the end of the day and only at a certain time of the growing season.

I have a clump of ‘Samobor’ near the front of my mixed hosta and fern bed…one of the shadiest beds in my garden. ‘Samobor’ does get some morning sun at the front of the bed and it seems to be just the right amount as my plant is typically a little ahead of John’s in full shade.

Regardless of its location in either garden, it always solicits comments from visitors to our garden. A truly delightful plant.


Posted on March 10, 2021


Allium flavum

Photo coming soon

Allium flavum                Family: Liliaceae
(AL-ee-um  FLAH-vum)

Common name: ornamental onion; small yellow onion
Zone: 5 – 8
Height: 10-12 in (25-30cm)  Spread: 4 in (10 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: moderate

Description:  A bulbous herbaceous perennial which produces an umbel of lemon-yellow, bell-shaped flowers in late spring through early summer. Narrow, strap-like, blue-green leaves will wither as the flowers mature.


Special Notes: An heirloom dating back to the late 1750s. Native to region surrounding the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas; France, Morocco to Iran, Kazakhstan. A relative to culinary onions and garlic. Good for containers and rockeries. Plant bulbs 3 – 4 times their own depth in autumn. Naturalizes to create a pleasing display. Attracts bees. Can fall prey to the same diseases which afflict onions and garlic. Deer resistant. 


Awards: Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993.


Posted on February 17, 2021


Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’

Photo coming soon

Ajuga reptans ‘Black Scallop’     Family: Lamiaceae
(ah-JEW-gah  REP-tanz)

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. U.S. Plant Patent was issued in June 2005.

‘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


Geranium sanguineum ‘Max Frei’

Geranium sanguineum 'Max Frei' Geranium sanguineum ‘Max Frei’ 
(jer-AY-nee-um  san-GWIN-ee-um)
Family: Geraniaceae

Common name: bloody cranesbill; bloodred geranium
Zone: 3 – 8
Height: 6-9 in (15-23 cm)  Spread: 9-24 in (23-60 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: moderate; well-draining
Water: moderate   

Description: An herbaceous perennial with a compact, clump-forming habit. Foliage consists of small, shallowly cut, dark green basal leaves and thinner, more deeply cut stem leaves. Round, 5-petalled, purple-pink, flowers to 1.5-inch (3.8 cm) in diameter and marked with darker veining, are formed singly on lax inflorescences. Prolific bloom period from mid-spring through summer and into autumn. Wonderful foliage colour changes to shades of red and orange in autumn given adequate sun.


Special Notes: Unknown origin other than it is a cultivar of the slightly taller species, Geranium sanguineum which is native to Europe and Asia. Excellent plant for front of borders. Very easy care but be sure to give it good drainage. Relatively pest and disease free. Rabbit resistant. Deer may nibble on hardy geraniums. Drought tolerant once established. Propagation by division in early spring or autumn.


In our Zone 7a garden: This is a beautiful workhorse in our landscape design. Truthfully, it is a fuss-free plant and looks good throughout the season with its long bloom period.


Posted on July 9, 2020


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