Home & Design

Green Acre #341: Fake It to Make It

The flowers gracing the gazebo are fake, but Baby and Prince Pete are real and going strong. / Family photo.

BABY WANTED an outdoor wedding, in a park perhaps, surrounded by flowers. She chose the Klein-Pringle White Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she and her Personal Prince Pete live. 

A popular spot for weddings, with its “veritable bouquet of white flowers bedecked by white and silver foliage—all graced by a Victorian pool and gazebo,” their website says. Among the splendid blossoms are Japanese snowbells, Loebner magnolias, Mohawk viburnum and white crape myrtle. How lovely.

Yeah, well. It was lovely and green the day they were wed. Oh, so green, so very green. There was not a flower in sight. We gazed forlornly at the setting the morning of, then ran to the nearest Michaels craft joint and picked armloads of faux white dogwood and snowballs. These were twisted and twined around the gazebo to pretty stunning effect, if I do say so myself. 

Though it was more than a little strange to be decking out a renowned public garden in garlands of fake dreck. 

I kept expecting to see some safari-hatted garden guide come pounding forth, ordering us to dismantle that abomination immediately. But no, we were left alone.

Did I mention it was April? And you just know what came our way. 

The sky, which had been sunny all day, decided to open up just as Baby started down the aisle, huddled under an umbrella beside My Prince. The string quartet was under the gazebo, as was the officiant, who cut the service a bit short. Pete, the bridesmaids, groomsmen and guests were drenched. It was certainly unforgettable.

And seven years later, Baby still has her blossoms.  

Gardens have their ups and downs, but even in early spring one expects . . . something. A tulip perhaps? Midsummer can be just as treacherous—the roses develop some hideous ailment, the hydrangeas look dingy, and shouldn’t the damn begonias be in bloom?

And wouldn’t we pick such a lull to have a garden party to celebrate the garden?

Think about our fake solution as a way of “photoshopping” the garden (which I confess I’ve done to my photos when I’m intent on looking good, which is always).  

Plenty of artificial flowers are so true to nature you’ll even fool yourself, which can be amusing. Or go full Frida Kahlo fiesta with totally unnatural, frankly fake stems in a glorious clash of color. 

If you really want to be obsessive, spritz the flowers with perfume.   

I am not that tacky, you sniff? Oh, don’t strangle on your bodice. 

Alrighty then. Plop pots of blooming plants into the greenery (which we hope you have) or get some stemmed floral water tubes and poke individual blooms into the ground or shrubs. 

Then bring the garden to the table. 

Create a splashy base with a madly flowered tablecloth such as this stunner from Neiman Marcus, where brilliantly colored birds perch on and fly amid equally vivid flowers and twining green branches on an eye-popping salmon pink cloth with a pale green and eggplant border. Pick up the colors with pale pink wineglasses, green and white dinner plates, purple napkins and a centerpiece that gathers it all together into a single wow. 

For something more subtle, try black and white mattress ticking like this simply elegant cloth by Matteo. Set it with black and white scroll-patterned plates, crisp white napkins, and bring it home with a tall, narrow vase with several huge palm or elephant-ear leaves to form a living umbrella above the table. No vase tall enough? Set the one you have on a pedestal—just keep it above eye level. 

Or go all white. White tablecloth, plates, napkins and magnolias—or my favorite roadside weed, Queen Anne’s lace in a frosty-looking vase—more votives than you think possible in silvery holders, and tiny white lights twined in the trees. 

Check out Pinterest for a rabbit hole of possibilities and go make lemonade from the lemons you’ve been handed. I bet no one will miss the flowers. 


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