Fresh is fleeting, while faux is forever.
“Forever flowers”, “everlasting blooms”, “permanent botanicals” or whatever you call them, artificial flowers today look amazingly lifelike and have become a legitimate alternative to Mother Nature’s originals.
The Wall Street Journal in fact recently proclaimed faux flowers “chic”, reporting that “the seemingly uncool craft of simulating nature’s blossoms has stealthily become chic. Brilliant faux blooms that defy preconceptions and last forever – the handiwork of artists and inspired floral stylists – have begun popping up everywhere from Kate Spade stores to high-end weddings”.
Closer to home, the Straits Times in a write-up earlier this year titled “Fake and Fabulous”, stated that “fake flowers and plants are enjoying a resurgence”.
I had wanted to add a display item to my plain TV feature wall, and felt I could use some colour as well to liven up my predominantly white themed apartment. Not being much of a green thumb, and not wanting to deal with the bugs that real plants attract, I thought I would look to artificial flowers instead.
No longer the cheap plastic abominations we remember from the ’80s, today’s artificial blooms are very realistic looking and, are practical longer-lasting displays than fresh flowers. So off I went to The Verge mall where there are a few shops on the 5th floor retailing these faux flowers and plants, at reasonable costs to boot.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s Blanco Court shopping centre along Ophir Road was the go-to place to buy decorative items at wholesale prices – party accessories and gift wrappers, as well as artificial flowers and plants. When Blanco Court made way for the Raffles Hospital in 1998, many of the retailers moved to The Concourse along Beach Road. In 2008 the retail part of The Concourse was acquired to make way for service apartments however, and some of the retailers relocated to The Verge mall in Serangoon Road.
There are 4 shops on the top floor today selling artificial flowers, adding a burst of colour to an otherwise dowdy mall. Pretty floral displays cram every inch of the shops, in readymade potted arrangements or as individual stalks.
Artificial flowers are primarily made of silk, however nowadays many are made using the cheaper polyester, with the stems and other bits made of plastic. The techniques and technology used in making these flowers have improved by leaps and bounds in recent years with better prints, colours, and materials to mimic the look and feel of the real McCoy.
All that’s lacking perhaps are the sweet floral scents.
The artificial plant and flower shops on the 5th floor are:
There is also another shop wholesaling toys and a shop selling party and festive supplies.
At this time of the year the floral shops have cleared some of their regular flower and plant displays in favour of Christmas trees (fake of course) and other yuletide décor items. In fact the shops switched over to Christmas sales mode as early as October. Great for Christmas bargain hunters, not so great unfortunately if you’re looking for non-festive plants.
There’s still plenty to choose from though, and it’s fun to wander among the cramped aisles of the shops admiring the multi-coloured creations. Just remember to be careful walking among some of the precariously displayed pots and vases though, lest you break something (as I did..!).
Some plants and flowers are more realistic looking than others, and to be honest many of the plants, as compared to the flowers, still look pretty fake. The large potted plants aren’t cheap though, and in fact, the faux flowers do cost a pretty penny too – although if you amortize their costs over their longer life spans than they are definitely better value buys than genuine flowers.
I bought 2 black glass vases with potted purple orchids in the end, paying $68 each. Faux Orchids look very real (if you stay away from the strange electric blue coloured ones), and since they are local plants will be more convincing than say a pot of too-perfect Tulips or Gerberas in our climate. I had also been admiring the display of what looks like white orchids on Ellen’s set for a while; am pretty sure those aren’t real flowers.
5th Floor, The Verge Mall, 2 Serangoon Road (Juction of Serangoon Road and Sungei Road)
I picked out my flowers in about a half hour as I knew what I wanted, although you might want to allow yourself more time to admire the beautiful blooms and select your choice of what to take home.
- The Verge used to be known as Tekka Mall as it is opposite the famous Tekka Market and Food Centre, before it upgraded itself and adopted a fancier name in 2009. A sleepy mall with not much else happening apart from the 5th floor floral shops, there is a huge Sheng Siong supermarket in the basement levels though (Sheng Siong incidentally is where you can get a wide variety of fresh local fish).
- The old Blanco Court mall had a food centre connected to it, and was known for its delicious “Kway Chap” (Teochew rice noodle soup dish featuring pig offal) stalls. One of the stalls is now located in the Old Airport Road Food Centre, and is called “To-Ricos Guo Shi (“guo shi” is Mandarin for “kway chap”) with a signboard highlighting its “Blanco Court Food Centre” origins. Just look for the long queue really.
- The Verge Mall has 2 buildings linked by a walkway – the smaller “main” building, and the larger Chill@TheVerge housing food and beverage, and entertainment outlets geared towards the younger set. The mall carpark is in the annexe building, and the entrance to the carpark is pretty hard to find as it’s tucked away among a warren of one-way lanes on a side street called Dalhousie Lane. Follow the signs carefully.
- Making Beauty Permanent (YouTube video on flower production)
- How Products are Made: Artificial Flowers