Saying it with Flowers

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Two subjects I prefer not to write about in this blog are my day job and artificial flowers. Today I make an exception, perhaps because it’s my final day working in China, or perhaps because I have been separated from real flowers for far too long. At this point in my travels I do tend to develop rather peculiar taste, but I hope you’ll agree today’s breach of house rules is justified.


plastic begonia leaves, Shenzhen, Oct 2016


By and large Chinese factories are debilitatingly dull, dirty places devoid of any frills or creature comforts: they all look very much the same, whether they are making fairy lights, ornaments or wreaths. Today I was visiting a Christmas tree showroom on the eighth floor of a new factory building in Shenzhen. Nothing unusual in that, so imagine my surprise when the lift doors opened on a faux floral fantasy fit for a Pierre et Gilles photoshoot.


Floral lift lobby, Shenzhen, Oct 2016

Pierre et Gilles, "Stromae Forever", 2014
Pierre et Gilles, “Stromae Forever”, 2014


At first I thought I’d arrived on the wrong floor, then quickly noticed the John Lewis logo picked out with pin-point precision in tiny plastic flowers. The walls of the lift lobby had sprouted meadows of plastic buttercups and chrysanthemums “grew” in jazzy Jacquard stripes. Overhead the ceiling was lavishly draped with pastel wisteria, reminding me of the set from The Secret Garden. Crowds of convincing anemones and hoards of brightly coloured begonia leaves jostled for position; everywhere I glanced another blooming detail. I don’t recall ever seeing a bee in China, but should one venture into this polyester paradise it would be very confused, and go very hungry.


plastic wisteria, Shenzhen, O


I play a game with myself when I’m in China called “so bad it’s good”. This involves finding products, clothes, shop signs and menu items that are so awfully wrong that they are brilliantly right. This eccentric floral extravaganza defied any kind of classification, which is why I had to share it with you. If nothing else, I guess it confirms that plastic flowers are better than no flowers at all.


7 Up - floral arrangement, Shenzhen, Oct 2016


The flowers extended into the factory’s reception area, with a front desk clad in faux turf and purple and pink paphiopedilums projecting provocatively from the walls. Alas the killjoys at the local fire department are insisting that Leon, the cheerful Szechwanese factory owner, removes all the flowers because they represent a fire hazard. And there was me thinking such silly strictures were the preserve of the EU. Let’s hope that a modest bribe will allow the display to last a little longer.


Plastic flower wall, Shenzhen, China, October 2016


Whilst I was not about to strip off like one of Pierre et Gilles’ male models – the stuff of nightmares after three weeks of waistband-busting dinners – I found myself appropriately attired in a floral shirt and was happy to crouch momentarily beneath my company logo for a cheesy snap.

I’ve been showered with rose petals, donned with garlands of marigolds and offered everything from packets of green tea to musical doormats on this trip, but this was definitely the best welcome of all.


John Lewis logo in plastoc flowers, Shenzhen, Oct 2016







Categories: Art and Design, Floral Art, Flowers, Musings, Photography, Travel

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

Greetings Garden Lover! Welcome to my blog. Plants are my passion and this is my way of sharing that joyful emotion with the world. You'll find over 1000 posts here featuring everything from abutilons to zinnias. If you've enjoyed what you've read, please leave a comment and consider subscribing using the yellow 'Follow' button in the bottom, right-hand corner of your screen. You will receive an email every time I post something new.

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21 comments On "Saying it with Flowers"

  1. SERIOULSY FAB-U-LOUS!!!! So very wrong, and so very right! Luv luv luv especially the logo! What is wrong with ‘elf an’ safety….don’t they know something glam and wonderful when they see it….I am home..fortunate only 9 days for me not the weeks u have had…💐🌹👏👏👏👏👏

  2. Brilliant!

    On 30 October 2016 at 09:57, The Frustrated Gardener wrote:

    > The Frustrated Gardener posted: ” Two subjects I prefer not to write > about in this blog are my day job and artificial flowers. Today I make an > exception, perhaps because it’s my final day working in China, or perhaps > because I have been separated from real flowers for far too lo” >

  3. Wonderful, wonderful. I think you are a very important person to them and hope you placed an appropriate order. So glad you were wearing one of THOSE shirts – you must have known! I do so look forward to musical door mats next year.

    Mrs. P

  4. It does defy categorization…I think I would tire of it eventually but it is quite sumptuous in all its plastic glory. I do wonder why plastic flowers are a fire hazard?

      1. I think the fumes and having molten wisteria dripping from the ceiling is probably what’s putting the fire department off! Inside the showroom the owner has reconstructed a typical Szechuanese house to show off his Christmas lights. It’s an unusual assemblage, but you can’t fault his imagination.

  5. That is astounding. What a way to welcome a visitor.

    And now that you have seen this vision, can we look forward to all John Lewis lift areas looking like this one day?


  6. I had to laugh when I heard that health and safety was an issue in the factory. After seeing builders in suits with no ropes, hard hat, steel-capped boots and certainly no scaffolding, it can only be a killjoy who would have those flowers down 😉.

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