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Beat the drought with faux flowers in the garden and paper pretties in your home

No longer the pariahs of decor, fake flowers are showing up at some of the best addresses. And, with Cape Town’s water shortage, they are even popping up in gardens.

Croydon resident Alison Willcocks said when her garden began to die because of the drought, she turned to faux garden flowers to brighten up her day.

“In the past I would have turned my nose up to anyone who said their flowers were artificial, but I am now sold on fake. The flowers in my garden are weather-resistant and long-lasting.”

Whitney Robinson, editor-in-chief of US Elle Decor, believes there is a place for faux flowers today: “They are essentially copies of what you would buy fresh.”

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Robinson recognises that “not everyone has the time or budget to buy fresh consistently. We are entering a new era in faux flowers, toward a new generation of paper flowers that takes the artistry to the next level.”

In the past few years, consumers have embraced artificial flowers, unapologetically welcoming the silk, polyester or poly-blend version of succulents, orchid plants and hydrangea bouquets into their homes.

Decorators and design bloggers feature faux flowers in their projects and on social media. Retailers are selling individual faux blooms and pre-arranged mixed bouquets and planters. On Etsy, roses and poppies spring forth in polyester and tissue paper.

Picture: Kate Mathis

Monica Bhargava, Pottery Barn’s executive vice-president of design, says Pottery Barn has created flower shops for its faux line and created videos about how to design with them.

“It’s nice to come home to faux botanicals, which are effortless and fun,” she says.

The charm of handcrafted paper flowers is captured by artisans such as Cetti, who has written two books on paper flowers.

“People like the fact that paper flowers stay around for a while,” Cetti says.Design bloggers have hastened the flowering of faux. “I don’t have the money for fresh flowers in every corner,” says blogger Emily A Clark. “This gives the look and feel of it.”

“People want the fresh flower look in their home,” says Donna Garlough, style director for Joss & Main.

Although there’s no watering, artificial flowers need care. Garlough says when you unwrap them, “they need ‘zhuzhing’, but so do real flowers”.

Move them around and fluff out the branches. To keep silk or synthetic arrangements dust-free, clean gently with a soft, dry cloth or use the small brush attachment of your vacuum. Keep paper flowers out of direct sun and high-humidity areas. Use a blow-dryer to get rid of dust. – Additional reporting by Home writer

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