Growing Guide for Hepatica
21.01.2024 - 22:01
/ Frederick Leeth
Today I went out my back door and noticed that one of my rosebushes was, unexpectedly, sporting a fresh new flower bud. It was within a day or so of opening up–small, greenish and obviously defiant of the season. The bud was an oddity on a rosebush that is itself an oddity. When I bought the small white-flowered shrub last summer it had one blossom that was half white and half red, and looked as if it had been half-dipped in red paint. Though my February bud was not a “half and half” flower, I took its appearance as a harbinger of spring, plucked it, and delivered it to a friend who shares my belief in such things.
I started thinking about other early spring flowers-winter aconite, snowdrops, and crocuses. Not long ago I was reintroduced to liverwort (Hepatica), which has all the virtues of the little spring-flowering anemones that you see in all the catalogs, but obviously lacks a big league public relations person. It is a shame, because hepatica is eminently deserving of greater renown.
In a world where connections are so important, hepatica has them. It is a member of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family, like common buttercup, clematis, and hellebore. In truth, single flowered hepaticas are almost dead ringers for windflowers (Anemone blanda). The blossoms are petite and daisy-like, in shades of blue, lavendar, white , rose and pink. Like many of the earliest flowers, it is a low grower, unwilling to rise taller than about 12″ and expose its flowers and foliage to cold March winds.
Hepatica acutiloba is a native American liverwort, occurring naturally in the eastern part of the continent-at least those parts not yet paved over. Appearing in March, it has light lavender flowers and
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