With its dust-shrouded leaves, lurid green plastic stalks and 'soil' that seems to have been used as an ashtray, it is hardly realistic-looking, nor is it welcoming. The fake pot plant's baleful demeanour gives the impression that the company - which can't even be bothered to give the manky thing a quick vacuum - doesn't care much about its staff.
How cheap can you get? It doesn't cost much to buy a glossy plant with sap coursing through its veins, so why not choose the real thing? Things have moved on, though, in the permanent botanical business, as the plastic plant trade is now termed. The days of 'spot it a mile off' fake plants are gone. TV gardener Charlie Dimmock told Mail on Sunday readers: 'Some are so good you have to look twice', extolling the virtues of artificial palms with real wood trunks and hand-painted silk leaves, which, she pointed out, are ideal for places where real plants won't grow. New York rooftops are bedecked with topiary shrubs, cypress trees and boxwood hedges, all artificial. The Big Apple's Permanent Foliage company uses spray paint to create shadows and grinds up moss to make a paste that ages trunks.
The results can be so convincing, says the firm's marketer Lawton Tootle, that one customer had to transfer some of his housekeepers from his city apartment to his country home because they insisted on watering the plastic shrubs.