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.

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