My mother used to surround herself with plants. Mostly green plants. At some points the windows were a tangle of mini-jungles, faithfully watered and cared for in a routine that kept them thriving. Over the last several decades, the live jungle of green has given way to delicate-seeming decorative pots of silk and plastic flowers. Orchids, mainly.
With fake flowers, there is no give and take. No symbiotic relationship. They just are, and we just admire.
Yesterday, however, I discovered something new in my mother’s window. A live plant, having lost its natural flowers to seasonal shedding, had been lovingly decorated with silk petals. All the surrounding plants are imitations, so you’ll understand why I approached this larger plant — half tree, half potted flower — assuming it was fake. The branches, however, looked too detailed, too gorgeously imperfect. And the final giveaway was the collection of dried petals collected at the base of the plant.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed plastic tabs at the base of each “flower,” and I had to touch them. Yes, fake! But the bark, that was real. My mother had had a stroke of genius. Much like the human methods of hair dye and lip stain and jaunty demeanor to affect a younger look, this plant had been given the facade of vitality thanks to careful placement of silk flowers on its branches.
And it was beautiful and colorful and temporary. Perfect for waiting for the real thing through winter.