Botanical Elegance Explores the Delicate Art of Crafting Faux Flora
History: Nolan Beverly began his career in the faux-plant-and-flower industry in 1985 as a warehouse manager for a company selling the products in Kansas City, Mo. He went on to work for a silk flower importer and later became the assistant general manager for a manufacturing company of the same discipline in Wichita, Kan., before moving on to run the supply department of a wholesale company dealing in flower supplies. “At the time, I was always the operations person. I had no interest in building the floral creations, but I needed to understand how it was done,” he remarks. After moving to Phoenix with his wife, Cecelia, in 1990, Nolan began developing skills in tree building, floral design and color palettes. “I started that out of my garage in 1995 and founded a company called Botanical Expressions with a partner that same year,” he recalls. In 2005, he sold the company to a friend and immediately went out on his own, changing the name to Botanical Elegance and putting Cecilia in charge of sales.
“Once I owned my own business, I learned to design out of necessity,” he admits. “Somewhere along the road, I developed a passion for it. I finally figured out this was what I was supposed to do. Then the game was on. This whole thing was a total brain change for me.”
Philosophy: “We want to create art,” Nolan explains. “We’re very professional and we take pride in our work. We don’t take shortcuts. We deliver on time. We always do what we say we’re going to do. We work with a lot of top designers and high-level clients, and we want to give everyone our very best every time.”
Insight: I may be the master artist, but Cecilia is the motor that makes things work,” Nolan says. “She comes from a corporate background, so she does everything involved with running the showroom on a day-to-day basis and she also does the visual displays in the showroom. That has allowed me to be creative,” he adds. “Give me my warehouse, let me build, and I’m good.”
Go-to materials: A host of materials are used, including various species of natural wood for constructing tree trunks and branches, latex for succulents and fabric for tree leaves and florals, as well as foam, glue, moss, wire, screws, stone and polished rock.
Tools of the trade: While saws, drills, hammers and pliers are important implements, Nolan says he considers his hands and brain the most important tools.
Surprising fact: “Building botanicals is really labor-intensive,” Nolan declares. “There are five to six steps to building a tree, and each step has to be completed properly. It takes a full day.”
Most requested: While blue agave and fiddle-leaf fig trees, along with large containers to put them in, are the most requested items, succulents are a close second, Nolan notes. He adds that greenery is now more popular than florals, although realistic-looking orchids, geraniums and gardenias have a way of turning heads.
Proudest achievement: “I’m proud that the company has a good reputation and people trust us,” Nolan says readily.
What’s in store: Botanicals displayed throughout the showroom at any given time range from bonsai, philodendron and horsetail grass to a variety of trees that can be anywhere from 3 to 14 feet tall and various cacti and succulents, including yucca, column cactus and agave. In addition to finished products ready to go, the shop also displays loose succulents and flowers, as well as decorative containers in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles.
Care & maintenance: Botanicals should be dusted weekly. Trees should be taken outdoors and hosed off once or twice per year, Nolan suggests.
Don’t miss: The outdoor section, showcasing a variety of UV-infused or coated plant and cactus options that can withstand Arizona summers.