Imitation of life


This is the time when the newly emerged hostas look their freshest (“June Frost,” below)—no slug damage, leaves torn by the sprinkler, or other signs of wear yet. It’s also the weekend of our annual art festival, which brings “sunshine artists” from far and wide into my neighborhood.

You’d be surprised at how many garden-related items are sold at this thing: trellises, stands, tillandsia in pottery holders, humorous signage, and more. I have long threatened that whenever I mastered hypertufa or leaf casting, I would set up my own yearly stand.

But someone’s beaten me to it; right behind our alley, there’s a leaf art seller who makes casts of every type of leaf. Some of them are oil lamps, some are fridge magnets, some support glass tables, and others are made to hang on the wall.

He uses a concrete mixture that he keeps a secret. I’m not sure I like the colors, but maybe he’s right to forget about a natural look. Regardless, he’s better than I ever hope to be. Maybe I should go for the hypertufa. On the other hand, I did not notice him selling a lot of these.

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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 regular 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


  1. Those look like they are wonderfully done. I do not like the colour choice though. Plain concrete, or mossy would be fine. Do try the hypertufa, it is great fun.

  2. These appear to be made to bring an element of nature indoors, not necessarily for use outdoors in the garden. I guess color preference is in the eye of the beholder (or decorater).

  3. Yeah, I’m no fan of the color choices either. I’d prefer something more natural whether natural hypertufa colors, or natural leaf colors. But as Lisa commented, they are wonderfully done.

  4. We own a few of those concrete leaves. The ones outside are on 4 by 4s and used as butterfly feeders – perfect use!
    The one inside is on our bedroom wall next to the window that provides a view to one of the perennial beds in the back yard.
    The ones we selected are all actual leaf colors but the butterfly feeders could have been any color. Over ripe fruit and Gatorade cover them all summer anyway.

  5. I can see those, in even brighter, less-natural colors, as perfect snack-plates in a garden (or living room, for that matter, for example my Mom’s) out of a 1962 Sunset magazine. I actually like them.

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