[Hepatica - from Greek words, signifying belonging to the liver, the three lobes of the leaves having been compared to the lobes of the liver.]
Hepatica triloba. - This is a great favorite in the flower-border, on account of its abundant blossoms and great variety of colors and shades. It is a hardy perennial, with varieties of double-red, blue, and white. This charming early flower is found in its single state both red, blue, and white, in great abundance in old woods and copses, where it embellishes the ground with its clumps of numerous flowers. About the latter end of April and beginning of May they appear before the new leaves, which show themselves only when the flower is gone, but the old leaves remain through the winter. The leaves are divided into three lobes (triloba) of a brownish-green color, by which the plant may be known in the summer.
Another species, H. acutiloba, is less common than H. triloba, has more pointed lobes to the leaves, but is similar in other respects.
The double flowers are extremely handsome, colors very-bright; they are quite hardy here, and will thrive well if not planted in too damp a soil. I have seen the red in perfection at a garden in Roxbury, where it had endured the winter in the open air.
If required to grow in thick clumps, they should not be often moved, and then with great care, pressing the earth close to their roots; a strong, rich, loamy soil is best for them; seed for varieties and double flowers should be sown in July or August, or as soon as ripe - some say the transplanting should take place in August; I am of a different opinion, and think it should take place as soon as the flowering is over; in August the blossoms for the ensuing spring are forming at the base of the foliage, and to check this operation would destroy the flowers, whereas, moving in May only endangers the ripening of the seed which is not wanted.
Double Hepaticas in pots are sold in large quantities by the gardeners in England, and from the absence of foliage the pot appears entirely filled with flowers.
The double white variety is considered rare.
[Hesperis - from a Greek word, signifying evening. The flower is more fragrant towards evening, than at any other period of the day.]
Hesperis matronalis, Dame's Violet - Sweet Rocket. - The single varieties of this fragrant flower are common in most gardens. It is a biennial or imperfect perennial, three to four feet high, easily raised from seeds, producing the second year flowers of various shades, from pure white to purple, on long spikes; in May and June. Fine varieties may be perpetuated by divisions of the root, or by cuttings. The double varieties of this flower are superb, and highly esteemed for their fragrance and beauty. There is a purple and white variety, both very double, forming a spike about one foot high. It was known" in Gerarde's time, and cultivated by him in 1597. He remarks: "By the industry of some of our florists, within these two or three years, hath bin brought unto our knowledge a very beautiful kind of these Dame Violets, having very fair, double, white floures." These double varieties are very difficult to preserve, consequently rarely to be seen.
This is a fine species, growing six to eight feet high, producing very large white flowers, with a deep-red center. A native of the middle and southern States blooming August and September.
Is found growing by the margins of streams, and in marshes near the Atlantic coast. It has large pink flowers, about five inches in diameter. Numerous stems about five feet high; and leaves with a soft down on the underside. It is easily propagated from seeds or divisions of the root, and succeeds in any good garden soil; but better in a moist low ground. It is well adapted for planting in the shrubbery.
This is a plant of extremely easy culture; should be planted early in the spring. The petals are large and showy, of a straw color, the centre a deep rich brown or purple, finely contrasted with the brilliant gold color of the anthers. The flowers quickly perish, but, to compensate for their frailty, it continues to bloom from June to September.