Charles Day is Wave Hill’s Ruth Rea Howell Senior Horticultural Interpreter.
The Shade Border is home to woodland plants from many parts of the world. One of the oddest is the umbrella plant (Darmera peltata), from the cool, wooded creek-sides of the mountains of Oregon and California.
In spring, several days before any sign of foliage, clusters of pale-pink flowers pop out of the bare soil on tall stalks.
Once the leaves do emerge, they grow up fast and unfurl into an inverted umbrella shape—hence the common name.
They are supported by long petioles (leaf stalks), which arise directly from the ground.
If adequately supplied with water, the foliage will last all summer and can be a dramatic sight, especially when the green gives way to oranges and reds in fall.
Look for it blooming this week at the western end of the Shade Border, not far from Wave Hill House.