This And That

Not Your Grandma’s ‘Silks’: Permanents perfect for home décor

august-september-2008Permanent botanicals have gone by a variety of monikers. They’ve been referred to as plastic flowers, dried flowers, silk flowers, polyester flowers, sticks, stones and the catch-all “artificial.” We’ve finally settled on calling them permanent botanicals, which is a neat way of repositioning them within the context of fresh botanicals.
Permanent botanicals have gone by a variety of monikers. They’ve been referred to as plastic flowers, dried flowers, silk flowers, polyester flowers, sticks, stones and the catch-all “artificial.” We’ve finally settled on calling them permanent botanicals, which is a neat way of repositioning them within the context of fresh botanicals.

august-september-2008
Dried and permanent botanicals can function as everlasting home décor
pieces.

While the fresh floral arrangements are with us for a quick visit, the permanent botanicals function more like a member of the family – they’re here for a good long time. The different consumer applications for permanent botanicals tend to inform both the design process and the target market. Interestingly, permanent botanicals target a complementary market to their fresh siblings. It’s not about fresh or permanent – both can be strong tools to be deployed for different business opportunities. It’s simply a matter of matching the flower to the need.

Dried and permanent botanicals can function as everlasting home décor pieces.
Permanent botanicals  have navigated an interesting path to get to where they are today. It’s thought that the Chinese first used silk to make replica flowers, as early as in the 27th century BC. A company called the Parisian Flower Company started to supply silk wedding flowers and other silk flowers to dressmakers and interior decorators. In the roaring ’20s florists who used to sell natural flowers only began to use silk flowers in their vases and containers when it was not the season for some natural flowers or when some natural flowers were in short supply. Post Second World War and through to the ’70s plastic was often the material of choice, giving way to polyester artificial flowers made en masse and sold through big box retailers. The crafting craze in the ’90s created a market for inexpensive polyester flowers used for homemade wreaths and arrangements.  As big box craft stores now focus on trendier crafts like needle arts and scrapbooking they are backing off a bit on permanent botanicals. This may be a good thing because it gives consumers a break from the products of lesser quality and will allow the floral industry to combine its artistry with the amazing quality materials available. Echo boomers will soon be buying their first homes and decorating them while baby boomers downsize and finally get a chance to decorate that condo the way they want to. Permanent botanicals are the perfect way to tap into the home décor sector since their everlasting quality lends itself to functioning more like a piece of permanent art than a transient centrepiece.

Casey and Helen Rietveld of Creations by Helen in St. Catharines, Ont., have made permanent botanicals a cornerstone of their successful floral business for 35 years. “When Helen first started her business, permanent botanicals were easy to manage logistically when the operation was small and we didn’t have coolers. As we’ve grown the business, we’ve been able to balance fresh and permanent nicely as they target different consumer needs,” says Casey Rietveld. It would seem that fresh flowers are more likely to be occasion driven where permanent botanicals are more of a long-term décor investment. Given today’s decorating trends, permanent botanicals are perfectly positioned to thrive. One of the strongest decorating trends right now revolves around a desire to bring nature indoors and take our living space outdoors. Society’s current focus on environmental issues is credited for this movement. “The trend right now is definitely more towards botanically correct plants,” confirms Rietveld. “Some of the permanent trees that are being made incorporate natural woods and materials to make them incredibly close visually to living trees.” Creations by Helen has also included a decorating service as part of its business model. “We’re often brought into a home where the home owners aren’t quite happy with the way their décor is looking. The permanent botanicals can be the key to pulling it all together to make it click. It’s like a touch of lipstick to finish off the outfit,” says Rietveld. While permanent botanicals may adorn a customer’s décor for many years it’s important to let them know that as colour schemes and tastes change, the arrangement can be tweaked to bring them in line with new trends. “We have many customers who bring in their permanent botanical arrangements after a few years for freshening,” says Rietveld. “It can be a very cost-effective way for them to breathe new life into an existing arrangement.” Beyond tapping into the home décor sector permanent botanicals may prove to be a great fit for consumers with a passion for the environment.

Other Popular Posts

The current price of gas and a desire to be good environmental stewards has made consumers look for eco friendly options. Many permanent trees are made from recyclable materials and, of course, pesticides aren’t an issue with permanent botanicals.  Beautiful native woods and dried plants from your own region can add a local touch to an arrangement of permanent botanicals. The added bonus is that they are often a cost-effective way to enhance an arrangement and do not need to be transported long distances so they come with a tiny carbon footprint. “I always say that natural dried decorative flowers are the “Hamburger Helper” of the floral industry,” jokes Rita Truba of Decorative Plants Limited in Montreal. She also points to permanent botanicals as a way for florists to display their portfolio of fresh designs. “A fresh arrangement has such a short life span where permanent botanicals can give weeks or months of display time. Today’s permanent botanicals are so lifelike they will nicely represent what a fresh arrangement will look like. I know of a flower shop run in Montreal called Fleur de Juin. It focuses on dried and permanent botanicals and has caught the attention of some high-profile members of the industry. They really know how to present the arrangements beautifully from innovative wrapping to great containers,” confirms Truba.  Permanent botanicals are also relatively maintenance free – only requiring the odd sponging off of any dust collected. “Today’s consumer is so busy they really look for low-maintenance floral options,” Rita Truba says.

Canadian Florist
Share:
0

Your Cart