Painting a picture with flowers: New partnership with Jane Cullinan

Red and pink flowers on a coffin by Jane Cullinan for Poppy's, London funeral directors

Four minute read

Local florist, Jane Cullinan Flowers, and Poppy’s share a vision. We both believe that doing the best for our clients means enabling them to make meaningful, personal choices. We’re going to be working together more closely in the future and are delighted to introduce you to Jane and her work.

Have you always worked with flowers?

Well, I’ve been a florist since I was 19 and now I have grown up children, so I have been in the business a long time! Back then, the supermarkets didn’t sell flowers, so florists did it all.

I was traditionally trained as a florist and I have always done funeral work. I love the experience of starting from nothing and creating a work of art.

I’ve always worked in creative fields. I’ve worked in department stores doing window displays and have had a flower stall attached to a deli on All Farthing Lane.

I launched a flower delivery service during the pandemic, when the shops couldn’t open and it was hard to find suppliers. It spread by word of mouth and now I oversee a team of five people doing weekly or fortnightly flower deliveries for people, as well as funeral flowers and flowers for special occasions.

Flowers are my calling, I did the flowers for my mum’s and my sister’s funerals. It was cathartic for me. I believe it’s all part of the circle of life

Pink floral coffin wreath by Jane Cullinan for Poppy's, London funeral directors

How do you help a client find the flowers which are meaningful for them, even if they don’t know what they are looking for?

I create a floral display from people’s vision and memories, and what that person meant to them. It’s like painting a picture or telling a story, except I do it with flowers.

They’ll always be something you can tap into. It could be someone’s favourite colour, wild grasses because they loved the beach or it could be the month they were born in.

I like to find out about every client, it can be directly from their family or through Poppy’s, and I find it so rewarding to bring their vision to life.

You also supply flowers for weddings and other events. Are funeral flowers different?

Funeral flowers used to be very morbid — you didn’t use colour, you could only have a purple ribbon. That’s changed. Now we use flowers to celebrate someone’s life.

I have a workroom but no shop which means that I always buy flowers for specific orders. For example, if I’m using lilies I need to buy them a week before the funeral so that they open at just the right time. It has to be right for that day, a budding lily is no use. In some ways, it’s like a wedding — the flowers need to be at their absolute best on the day of the funeral.

I like the beauty of natural flowers, although I do work with unusual colours too. Anything from the feeling of a meadow to something more sophisticated. I’ve done funeral arrangements that people have thought were for a wedding.

Letter 'M' in yellow and lilac flowers by Jane Cullinan for Poppy's, London funeral directors

Have you decided what kind of flowers you want for your own funeral?

At my funeral, I’d want to have lily of the valley. They are my favourite flowers, they are divine. Or sweet peas, I love English sweet peas, they are like butterflies on a stem. Stunningly beautiful. I’ve told my daughter that I’d want my whole coffin covered, a woodland look. One of the team and I have worked together for over 20 years — she will be the creative vision for my funeral.

Yellow, orange and red coffin flowers by Jane Cullinan for Poppy's, London funeral directors

Why are you excited to be working more closely with Poppy’s?

I love the different things that Poppy’s does. I love the wicker coffins and the cardboard coffins in different colours. Why not have a pink coffin? That’s fantastic. Personally, I like something non-traditional, but everyone will want something different. You have to try and tap into the family and the person and find out what’s right for them.

It’s important for me to do this well, it’s one of the last things you can do for someone. Every client is different and each deserves your full attention. It’s about making a direct connection with them.

For example, I did a funeral in winter where I covered the whole coffin with flowers, using rich and vibrant colours. The family phoned me on the day of the funeral to say thank you. I was so touched by that.

Like us, Poppy’s is a small team, you get to know the people. I’m looking forward to working more closely together. I wouldn’t work with someone I wasn’t completely happy with, the partnership is an extension of me and my values.

I think we complement each other. From the initial phone consultation through to the funeral, every element is given our absolute attention.

Attention to detail is what really makes me happy — it's at the core of everything we do. It's important for me to know we have all worked together to create a wonderful and personal funeral and delivered the very best experience.

Find out more about how to choose flowers for a funeral or read the story behind how Poppy's began.

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