The umbrella plant pictured with the mayapple, above right, can be found in the Petit Pond area of Bedrock Gardens. Spring appearances can be deceiving, however, as the umbrella plant will, by late spring, tower over the large-lobed mayapple, creating a two-foot-high flat-topped canopy, best viewed in all its serrated splendor from the Tea House above.
Next, from the center of the leaf stalk ascends the cobra head: a purple-and-green or green-and-white striped spathe with a black-purple hood. Most of the cobra lilies observe their predatory postures through May, only to emerge again for a glimpse the following spring. In yet another farcical twist, some Arisaema become hermaphroditic, producing a cluster of red berries in mid- to late-summer which become visible as the spathe withers.
Like it’s cousin, the Lenten Rose (H. orientalis), H. foetidus often pokes through a blanket of snow, it’s bell-shaped flowers trumpeting the coming of spring. Unlike it, its leaves are spectacular: dark green, deeply lobed, and lance-shaped, even overwintering in milder zone 5 winters. Foetidus refers to “fetid,” but we can find no malodorous smell. Blooms can be cut for an early spring floral arrangement, but be sure to leave some faded flower stalks in place till early summer: “H. foetidus self seeds respectfully,” says Jill, ensuring nearly year-round interest for generations to come. -- Lisa Peters O'Brien