I have just returned from my annual pilgrimage to Christmas World, Europe’s biggest Christmas trade fair. Had I not known where I was, I might have been forgiven for thinking I had stumbled into Europe’s biggest plant fair, such was the dominance of flowers, floristry and foliage, real and artificial.
If you had not already noticed, plants in the home are seriously fashionable right now. It started with foliage plants displayed vertically on green walls, followed by those peculiar upside down pots that allow herbs to be dangled tortuously from the ceiling. Not convinced by these (sorry if you were), we moved on to succulents. Now, all of a sudden, any kind of foliage from filigree to fabulous goes. A rash of excellent books have been published on the subject of using plants in the home, including The Plant Recipe Book by Baylor Chapman, Botanical Style by Selina Lake and In Bloom: Creating and Living with Flowers by
I have worked with artificial flowers for over 20 years now, from getting my first job in the gift department at John Lewis, to becoming the buyer for artificial flowers fifteen years later, then moving on to Christmas decoration. I have witnessed just how far artificial plants have come in that time. The quality and realism of plants in particular has come on in leaps and bounds, so much so that I have to take a very close look nowadays to distinguish fresh from faux.
Would I buy a faux plant? Yes, actually I might. Whilst I would never consider one under normal circumstances, if I were to have an impossibly dark corner, or an even more peripatetic life than I already do, I would certainly rather have an artificial plant to look at than no plant at all. From reindeer moss to ravellana, protea to pelargonium, there is almost no plant that can’t be faithfully reproduced in some kind of plastic, foam or rubber.
Good artificial plants do not come cheap. They are achingly slow to develop, and laborious and expensive to manufacture. Each plant requires several different materials and processes to make, with leaves, stems and flowers often being painted or by hand. I have seen it done, and it requires time, skill, patience and precision. As with all things, one gets what one pays for. The manufacturers present at Christmas World are in the upper echelons of artificial plant manufacture and so the quality and realism are excellent. Judge for yourself from my snaps.
In my next post – look away now if you’re squeamish – I reveal the return of the gerbera; bigger, better and bawdier than ever before!