Funeral flowers a blooming business
Business is blooming for florists in the funeral business.
The amount of people dying grew from more than 25,000 in 1973 to 31,000 in 2016, according to Statistics NZ.
Kelly Sutton has specialised in funeral flowers for the last 16 of her 32 years as a Wellington florist.
The owner of Kelly’s Flowers says people are increasingly looking beyond the classic white lilies for their loved one’s respective send-offs.
‘‘Vegetable casket sprays are one of my specialties. Generally, if they didn’t like flowers and had a vegetable garden, we’ll make a spray with vegetables like carrots, broccoli, parsnip, silverbeet and swedes.
‘‘Crosses. Heart-shaped wreaths. Did a couple of anchors last week for seamen.
‘‘I’ve made sprays with golf clubs coming out. Tui cans. Cricket bats. Rugby balls.’’
Carnations are hugely in vogue, especially with the older generation.
But time is short. Wedding florists might spend years planning up to the big day. Funeral florists get about four days - less if there’s been a public holiday.
‘‘We’ve got a very limited time frame for funerals to get it right, to get the flowers perfect and open fully.
‘‘At the moment we’ve got all the springs coming through - beautiful irises and freesias and daffodils.’’
United Flower Growers spokeswoman Rebecca Jones said flower trends tended to flow in a circular fashion so designs that were prevalent in the 80s or 90s are seeing a resurgence.
‘‘A great example of this is the current fascination with dried flower arrangements, using media that would normally be thrown away to create something beautiful.’’
Depending on the season there are always specific blooms on trend.
In autumn, spring and summer, New Zealanders have great access to a wide range of flowers when growing conditions are at their best.
In winter some varieties grow better than others. Cymbidium orchids are at their peak during the winter months but both roses and lilies tend to slow down in supply.
‘‘Many local growers are working toward changing their growing methodology to provide year-round supply but this takes a lot of planning and investment for any kind of success,’’ Jones said.
‘‘Growers need to invest in artificial light sources, environmentally friendly heating, and larger covered growing spaces to increase their season for what flowers and foliage they produce.’’
Gee and Hickton funeral director Gavin Murphy said his team normally chatted with family about what they would like then order the flowers. While there were more ‘‘arty’’ arrangements these days, the average cost seemed to have flattened over the past decade – anywhere from $80 to $400 depending on the size.
‘‘[Flowers add a] nice softening of the casket. A nice scent as if from a garden.’’
Kelly Sutton from Kelly’s Flowers outside her workspace in Johnsonville.
Anchors are popular for sailors, says Kelly Sutton.