Garden Specialist

Horticulturist opens garden retail space


Growing up, REBECCA PATMAN was forced to do yard work. “My mother and grandmother loved to garden. My Memaw can grow anything – just by looking at it,” she says. Patman moved to the Wilmington area in 2004 and landed a job at the English Garden. “I was the water girl,” she says with a laugh. “I watered every plant by hand. And I got to know more about everything. I really liked being outdoors and grew to really love plants.”

Patman decided to enroll in Cape Fear Community College’s horticulture program. While taking classes, she worked at various nurseries including Pearce’s, Johnson, Five Oaks, and Paradise Lawn and Landscape. At each job, she expanded her industry knowledge ranging from customer service and ordering to growing plants from seeds to selling to retail nurseries. “My goal all along was to own a retail garden shop with a design studio,” she says.

Patman opened Wild Magnolia Design in 2017 and subsequently opened a retail location in Wilmington’s Cargo District in May 2022. She offers on-site and online consultation for homeowners, builders, and businesses. She also offers seasonal containers for those who would rather leave the planting to a professional.

“I can bring everything to the table, which is what I thought was missing from most garden shops” Patman says. “Whether it’s a patio, a small corner to your yard or acres of property, I give my clients all the information they need to create a space that works best for them.”

In the garden shop, she offers workshops like creating container gardens and terrariums and classes that focus on tree or plant care, how to build and maintain vegetable and herb gardens, and drip irrigation systems. She also hosts pop-up markets. “I want to create a community space for plant people and artists,” she says.

Patman hand-selects trees, shrubs, and evergreens and educates her clients on the correct methods and locations to plant. “Any business can sell you plants, but what do you do with them? Will it die because it’s in the wrong spot or did you buy something that could quickly become overgrown? I don’t want to peddle plants. I want to share as much information needed to create a space that works best for you.”

Patman’s inventory is seasonal, and she heavily focuses on native and pollinator plants. Items are North Carolina sourced as much as possible. She also sells dirt and soils.

“I’ve done the research and can suggest the right soil for you. I want to shift the focus toward planting more naturally by using organic fertilizers and pesticides.”

Patman is also reducing the use of plastics. Rather, she sells terra cotta, ceramic, glazed, and metal decorative planters. She sells small garden tools and is working with a local furniture maker to soon offer customized outdoor furniture.

Patman says fall is the best time of year to plant. “Spring planting doesn’t give the plant time to adjust to their new life before our harsh summer hits. In the fall, plant growth is slowing down. There’s less new blooms and foliage,” she says. “Most deciduous evergreens, trees, and shrubs can concentrate on root growth that slows down in the winter. This allows the plant to really take off in the spring.”

For those who are new to gardening or have had bad luck with plants, Patman encourages working with a professional like her. “I don’t want you to have to redo your garden. I can teach you to do it right and create a magical space that thrives.”

To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to

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Categories: Features