IT'S not just a choice between roses and lilies. With continuing advances in the fabrication of flowers, as well as new accessories, options for presenting blooms artfully abound.

FABULOUS FAUX

The floral industry can now craft artificial greens with modern materials, making “obviously fake” trees and flowers things of the past. “All sorts of plastics and rubberized fabrics are being introduced into artificial foliage to make them appear more realistic,” notes Sheri Alexander, national sales director from Cave Creek, Ariz.-based Display It. The new Holiday Foliage collection, for example, is made of PVC, with plastic-tipped branches. This mixture results in “trees {that} tend to look fuller. Even from a distance, they appear to have more shape and style to them,” Alexander says. Additionally, the molded needles hold their shape over time, allowing products to be stored and used again, thus making the florals more cost-efficient. Matt Lawton, director of sales for Fort Myers, Fla.-based The Canvas Nursery, says, “Event planners do not want to spend on live floral rentals, {but} rather have a product that is reuseable.”

FLAMBOYANT FOLIAGE

With the increased use of plastic flowers and trees, event planners have more options for customizing floral items for a particular event. Color coordination with almost any event theme is possible thanks to vivid synthetic materials. Denim and print fabrics make up the foliage of the palm trees from The Canvas Nursery. Lawton asks, “Need a pink palm or a metallic gold palm for that Liberace tribute party? We can do it.” It is possible to present unique themes when you don't limit yourself to colors found in nature; for example, celebrate the Fourth of July with red, white and blue palm trees, he suggests.

JUST ADD SPARKLE

Every floral design, fresh or faux, can benefit from accessories. From colored moss and stones that accent natural designs, to gems and glitter spread on the table, accessories act as a foil to bring out the best in blooms. Margaret Hofland, marketing manager of Roswell, Ga.-based Accent Decor, recommends using her company's Replica Diamond, a gem that comes in four colors and five sizes, to enhance tables at an event. Designers can provide sparkle and a conversation starter by liberally spreading the gems over the entire table, she says.

In Hofland's opinion, a common fault of floral design is centerpieces at awkward heights, making it difficult for guests to see or converse with their tablemates. To present buds without hindering conversation, Hofland suggests the Clarinet vase from Accent Decor. With a bowl on one side and a vase on the other, this vase is useful top side up or down. A cascade of flowers from the bowl while the vase stands mouth side down will provide a spectacular statement while allowing guests to communicate, she says.

Party Risers from Dawsonville, Ga.-based American Floral Container help put floral in its place. The event designer can place flowers in the top and base of the riser to simplify transport. Once at the event, the two pieces connect with a pole to lift the flowers to the perfect height.




RESOURCES

Accent Decor 800/385-5114; American Floral Container, 800/448-0843; Display It, 480/461-9333; The Canvas Nursery, 800/226-3335