Wild things


Native plant lines like American Beauties have been carried
by our local nurseries for a few years now, but recently I have noticed deeper
penetration into local wildflower territory. A couple weeks back (when the
weather was way better), I picked up some 4-inch pots of hepatica and podophyllum
peltatum from a nursery that has never carried these plants before. They also
had sanguinaria, thalictrum, and a bunch of other woodland and meadow natives,
some of which you’d never see sold commercially around here. There are smaller
rural nurseries in New York state that do focus on such plants, like Amanda's Garden, which also provides native plants for Central Park. Maybe
that’s where they got them.

It is a good sign to see mainstream nurseries sourcing these
plants. Unlike the American Beauties (which I also buy), they have no pretty labels or packaging,
aren’t in bloom, and are in sizes small enough to pick up a whole flat if you need to. They’ll
be just the thing for the shady areas in front of my house, which are meant for
spring-flowering bulbs and perennials. Some think of podophyllum as almost a pest, but a difficult space requires an assertive plant.


In the meantime, I depend on exotic bulbs like this t.
acuminata for a wild look in spring. Wild can be in the eye of the beholder.


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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Elizabeth the podophyllum will be up after the daffodils and with most tulips. It spreads by a thick deep rhizome that is not easily weeded. Like most spring understory plants it fades away after blooming. It won’t last the summer as a foliage plant. It is a lovely plant and certainly has its uses. Just be aware of its nature and that it will fulfill your intended purpose.

  2. The podophyllum grows in my woods. It says with me most of the summer but it does get a rust and looks pretty ratty before summer’s end. It does spread fairly quickly, and will soon overgrow your hepatica which is a small front-of-the border plant that is easily overtaken by bigger plants. Good luck with your wild things! I love them in my shady woods!

  3. I love podophyllum and have recently landed some seeds (now seedlings) of a himalayan variety (podophyllum emodi) that has burgundy markings on the leaves making it an interesting addition to my shade garden. In our previous garden (Canadian zone 5a) we had podos (I can call them that right? we’re all friends here…) remain in their stately umbrellic stance all summer without getting ratty at all. Still have yet to try the fruit they bear as the pesky squirrels always beat me to it before they ripen…gaaaaa squirrels

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