Faking It – House Proud, The Toronto Sun

In a perfect world, I’d like to have a vase full of fresh blooms in every room of my house at all times; calla lilies in the living room, gerbera daisies in the master bath and roses everywhere else.  But here in the real world, one arrangement of cut flowers at a time is enough to keep me happy.

However, live flowers are not everyone’s idea of beauty.  A friend of mine once asked me to never send her flowers because, “they’ll just die and that’s depressing.”  What about a plant, I wondered.  “It will just die too”, she predicted.  “I have a black thumb.”

When I was a kid, my Mom brought home a large, healthy-looking potted palm that sat in our family room window for years.  It was beautiful fake that lent a little tropical ambience to the space.  Our beloved Uncle Chuck once marvelled at how much the tree had grown since his previous visit.  It hadn’t changed at all, of course, but that’s how realistic it looked.  That plant is still at my Mom’s house and she has told me I can take it with me the next time I’m driving something more practical than my motorcycle when I visit.  I’m sure it will look good in my sunroom where it will stand up to the radical temperature changes in that non-insulated, unheated room.

Some people have a bias against artificial greenery and assume it all must be tacky and plastic-looking.  Actually, some of the best fakery is done with silk and if it’s high quality, it looks as beautiful as the real thing.  Virtually every flower in every hue has been recreated in the faux world and their advantages are numerous.  They require no water or fertilizer and as long as they get dusted once in a while, they can continue to look good – and even fresh – for a long time. 

Topiaries make a grand statement at the entrance of a home.  These trees or shrubs are trimmed into ornamental shapes by an Edward Scissorhands. They can be as simple as spirals and as ornate as fish or animals. My previously confessed circle addiction manifests itself in the plant world in a fondness for round topiaries and for my money fake is definitely the way to go. A living topiary or two on the porch could dehydrate in the summer or freeze in the winter.  Those worries evaporate if the greenery is a phoney.  I like to wrap a string of holiday lights around a topiary for a little festive glow.

And speaking of Christmas trees, it will soon be time to haul ours out of the basement.  It’s packed away in a box, an admission which elicits gasps from some of my friends.  To them, anything but a real, live pine tree is sacrilege and shameful. I used to feel that way about my tree, too, until I adopted a cat. Our magnificent, tall tree that reached the ceiling of the home’s grand entryway tumbled down one December day when the cat decided to use it as a scratching post.  The frightened kitty cured himself of climbing on future trees with that fast ride to the floor but just to be safe, we went with fake after that.  Despite several seemingly thorough vacuum jobs we picked needles out of the carpet for years. And those we missed were nibbled by the cat and thrown up in the most surprising places. 

One complaint about a fake tree is its lack of scent.  That can be cured with any number of pine or other scented sprays and fragrant plug-ins that are now on the market. There is no substitute for a fresh plant or a bouquet of live flowers but for something a little more long-term, there’s no disgrace in going fake.