I’ve said this a hundred times but I enjoy doing funeral flowers and take great pride in each one.

This week I had the pleasure of working on the funeral flowers for a keen gardner and thought I’d work with a mix of flowers and garden vegetables. I had great fun thinking about what I could use and how I could arrange all the elements together. Obviously as a florist, I’m extremely creative, I design with flower, blending colour, creating height, depth, contours and texture but I’m not that great at sketching (unless it’s rude scribbles on pretty much anything I can get my hands on), so I have to pick out flower and foliage as I go. You should have seen me wandering around the local farm shop weighing up onions, potatoes, marrows, courgettes, carrots and lettuce for colour, length, firmness and bushiness.

My shopping basket had never looked so healthy. I stood at the till with a smug look on my face as others unloaded home-baked biscuits, artisan bread and full-fat cream.

Back in the shop and I began my creation.

A Gardner’s tribute

Later this week, one of my regular customers came in and noticing that we had already started making up Autumn and Christmas wreaths asked if I could make up a poppy wreath?

I explained that unfortunately poppy wreaths were really expensive and may not be cost effective. I enquired whether she was representing a charity as we could try and create something with the same sentiment but at a lower cost.

It was then, she told me that her son James was killed in Afghanistan. I knew there was a solider from Pulborough who was killed but I hadn’t realised that this lady who I had spoken to many times, was his mother.

I looked at my husband John and then turned back to the customer who was immediately taken aback when she saw the tears running down my face.

I explained that our son James was also a soldier and was in Afghanistan on the same tour. He had volunteered to do the same run three weeks before her son James was killed. Our James came under fire, but thankfully returned unharmed, her son died.

At the time James told us that he had seen the helicopter coming back bringing her son in and that a memorial service was held in the camp. He said that was the moment he realised exactly what they were risking by doing a job. It makes moaning about all those long days running a florist shop quite trivial.

I can’t imagine how painful it must be to lose a loved one, especially a son. Just the thought of it sends shivers through my soul and meeting this mother has affected me and John deeply.

No matter how young or old you are losing someone dear is not something you can get over, all you can do is learn to remember them with love and happiness and when I’m working on a funeral tribute I want friends and relations to look at whatever I create and remember the person they have been created for. I want people to catch sight of the floral tribute and think “That’s the person I remember

It’s only a small thing I can do, but to me it’s everything.

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