Bogus Bushes and Plastic Peonies

plastic-flowers-wilkes-2008aug28-lah-153It’s November. Bushes have bare branches, perennials are dead, dried stalks. Except for a few hardy groundcovers and various conifers (pines, junipers, and the like), the landscape is asleep. Except… wait! Are those daffodils in that flower bed? And does that window box really have bright red, white and blue flowers in it at this time of year?

There seems to be a new trend in town. Maybe it’s because our growing season is so short. Maybe it’s because water is expensive and limited. Maybe people are just tired of doing yard work. But whatever it is, it’s growing… or, rather, it isn’t.

People are landscaping with (gasp) fake flowers!

plastic-flowers-wilkes-2008aug28-lah-151I assume many of these silk and plastic plants have been in place all summer. It’s just that with all the other greenery surrounding then, you don’t really notice that those flowers are slightly out of season, or have been blooming for way longer than they have any right to. Now, however, with everything else dormant, these horticultural imposters stick out like a sore (not green) thumb.

Flowers aren’t the only fake plants around here. There’s a company that I’ve seen for the past few years at the local home and garden shows; they’re selling fake lawns. This isn’t your typical bright green Astroturf (which can be spotted on some athletic fields around town). This is more like a flat rubber hairbrush with green “bristles.” The green blades are amazingly realistic—except no lawn ever looked that perfect. Once the mats of “grass” are installed, you brush brown rubber crumbles (made from recycled tires) over the entire surface, hiding the base and offering a fair imitation of soil. I thought it pretty funny that the show planners had located this booth right next to our master gardener help desk and garden exhibit.

libhts-flower-pots-dscf0478I suppose fake plants serve a purpose. It’s true that they don’t need watering, which is a big deal around here. They don’t require pruning either. They aren’t eaten by hungry bugs, and they don’t need fertilizer. All but the biggest hail stones bounce right off. The flowers, at least, “bloom” much longer than the real thing. And you can’t kill them. But somehow, that just isn’t good enough.

I don’t think these fake flowers will fool the bees for long. They don’t provide nectar for honey or hummingbirds. They never grow larger, never give the gardener the satisfaction of having cooperated with nature to produce something of beauty.

Maybe that’s the key. Fake flowers don’t feed the soul. I’ll stick with the real thing, thank you very much. And what should we do with those empty window boxes and annual flower beds? I’ll have some suggestions for that next time.

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