PLANT OF THE MONTH: Sharp Lobed Hepatica 

Posted on  by ridgetownrick

Spring is just around the corner, and to help us start dreaming about spring, this month’s Plant of the Month is one of the earliest native flowers to bloom in my garden – Hepatica acutiloba – the Sharp Lobed Hepatica. This tough little perennial stays alive all winter, waiting for the first warm weather, and will often produce flowers before the snow is gone.  

As usual, the Plant Description and In the Garden sections are courtesy of Shaun Booth from In Our Nature. Shaun is also the co-author of our new book The Gardener’s Guide to Native Plants of the Southern Great Lakes Region. The book is now available to preorder from booksellers and should be on bookshelves by March 1, 2024. The Plant of the Month articles are adapted from the book. 

Common Name: Sharp Lobed Hepatica 

Scientific Name: Hepatica acutiloba 

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family) 

Alternate Common Names: Liverleaf, Mountain Hepatica 


ARTICLE: The Versatile Fern 

Posted on  by ridgetownrick

They don’t have big showy flowers (or even tiny inconspicuous flowers), they don’t feed pollinators or even rabbits (usually), and only a few seem to be host to some moth caterpillars, but it is my firm belief that every native plant garden should have ferns.  

There are native ferns for just about every garden condition in the Southern Great Lakes region. After all, according to the Peterson Field Guide to Ferns of Northeastern and Central North America, “some 11,000 different species of ferns and fern relatives… occupy every corner of Earth, from mountaintops to deserts to coastal swamps.” That book covers over 100 species that are mostly native to our region. There WILL be a fern that will grow in your garden. 

In this month’s article I will take a look at some of the ferns I have in my own garden in southwestern Ontario (as well as a couple I don’t have) and I will discuss why I like them. I have at least 18 species of ferns in my gardens – I have had more in the past, but lost a few over the last couple of years due to changing conditions in my yard. 


BOOK REVIEW

Native Plant Gardening for Birds, Bees & Butterflies: Upper Midwest 

Book by Jaret C Daniels 

  • Publisher: ‎Adventure Publications, 2020 
  • Paperback‏:‎ 276 pages 
  • ISBN-10: 1591939410 
  • Dimensions: 8” X 10” 
  • Price: $36.59 (Amazon.ca – note, this book is available on Kindle for $16.32); $16.49 (Amazon.com) 

This is, indeed, a beautiful book to add to your collection. The photos are large, sharp and nicely laid out. A brief description of each plant, including its bloom period and its growing conditions, and which groups of insects it’s important to make this book stand out.  

The interesting tables at both the beginning and end of the book are helpful as well. The tables at the front summarize the information on the plant pages, while at the back of the book, tables show which plants are suitable as bird food and or for nesting, and which are good hummingbird plants. Finally there is a section called Larval Host List. All great and useful ideas. But I struggle with 3 things in particular about the book (four, if you count the lack of an index). 
 
The first problem is its organizational scheme – plants are grouped by light requirements: full sun, full sun to partial shade, and partial shade to full shade. In theory this sounds great. Unfortunately, many native plants don’t fall neatly into one of the categories. For instance, another book I recently reviewed on Amazon.ca lists Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine) as a full sun plant. This book puts it into the part shade to full shade section. In fact, both are right as it will do just fine in all the categories. But what exacerbates the problem with this book is that there is no index, so if you want to look up a particular plant, you have to figure out WHERE the author thinks it grows. 


Other Random Stuff

Check out the February Jigsaw Puzzle!