Assistant Director of Public Programs Laurel Rimmer highlights what’s new in the gardens this week.
A few members of the Arum family (Araceae) are showing off their bold foliage and unusual flowers this week. Look for an inflorescence consisting of a leaf-like spathe and a fleshy spike of tiny flowers called a spadix.
Thick, shiny foliage of Arisaema ringens (Japanese cobra lily), pictured on the right, contrasts nicely with the finely textured leaves of Branford rambler fern (Athyrium ‘Branford Rambler’). Peer beneath the massive leaves, pictured on the left, to see where it gets its common name. This is an impressive and easy to grow Arisaema topping off at about 2 ½ feet tall. Several groupings of cobra lilies thrive in the Shade Border.
Also in the Shade Border and elsewhere on the grounds, Arum italicum subsp. italicum ‘Marmoratum’ (Italian arum) is in full bloom, showing off creamy white spathes. Flowers are followed by bright red berries that appear in midsummer as the foliage goes dormant. The leaves are overlaid with attractive white patterning, perfect for lightening up a shady spot.
Here it is pictured with Geum triflorum. When they are happy, they may become overly aggressive, often graduating to weedy status.
The foul-smelling voodoo lily summons flies to pollinate its flowers. Fortunately blooms are fleeting and collapse in a day or two, replaced by tropical-looking leaves on long, spotted stems. A prolific grower, it will provide plenty of little tubers to share with garden friends (or enemies).