A conversation on funeral flower arrangements with a slightly more light hearted approach to the theme.
Close up of an autumn style funeral flower arrangement by David Ragg
For floral designer David Ragg, our ambassador from the UK, making funeral flower arrangements is a big part of the job. Whether it is a large family flower arrangement or a bundle of flowers for people coming by on their way to a funeral, it’s all in a days work. “Our shop is in Bournemouth and we have a lot of elderly residents, enjoying their retirement by the seaside. Consequently, we have a lot of funeral flower orders as well. And that’s why the requested flower arrangements are mostly in a traditional British style”, David explains to me.
I've done cars, planes, birds, arm chairs, boxing gloves... And a pair of boobs!
A bird design by David Ragg
When conversation comes to strange requests in funeral flower arrangements, David has had lots. As he has been a florist practically all his life, he starts to sum up: “I’ve done funeral arrangements in the shape of cars, planes, birds, arm chairs, logos, boxing gloves, boxing rings, a piano. And a pair of boobs! This was requested for a man who was a real womanizer and his mates from the pub wanted to honor him that way. Ha, that’s great, isn’t it?"
"What else… dogs. Not just a dog but specific breeds. And I’ve made a flower arrangement for a dog’s funeral. His family requested the shape of a bone, but once filled with flowers, it looked more like a bowtie.” I can’t help bursting into laughter, especially when David tops it of with a dart that in the end resembled a rocket. “But that was twenty years ago, he laughs, so unfortunately there are no pictures. It is actually quite common in the UK to use ready made shapes or letters by Oasis floral foam”, David continues, but with these special requests you have to be quite a sculptor. And sometimes you simply have to urge people to go with a different design.”
Once I’ve dried my tears of laughter, he says “but seriously, I love doing funeral flower arrangements because of the personal touches people want to add. Sometimes they’ll ask me to incorporate objects with a symbolic meaning. Or to use specific flowers their loved one had in their garden. I really like the natural look; whimsical with wild flowers or a design with a garden feel. Flowers are just the most effective way to show your love and sympathy”, David concludes.
Two of David's favourite designs: a 'Spring Garden' funeral arrangement he made for a friend's grandmother and an In Memoriam piece for a graveside