Flowers have always featured at funerals. They are fresh and beautiful and, in the old days, yes, helpful in overcoming smells from the coffin.

Florists will supply all manner of ‘floral tributes’ in all shapes and sizes from a coffin spray to the name of the person who’s died spelled out in flowery letters. Many will ingeniously make a horse’s head in flowers for a keen gambler, a pint of Guinness for a drinker, a pipe for a smoker and, for a football fan, the badge of their team. In the West Midlands florists are skilled at delicately spraying flowers Aston Villa magenta.

Flowers are declining in popularity because many see them as a waste of money. In the case of a cremation that is arguably the case. You enjoy them for a few minutes then leave them behind. They are laid outside the following day and chucked in a skip a few days after that.

There is often an environmental cost, too—all that wire and oasis and cellophane.

A coffin spray lends beauty to the coffin which, otherwise, might look forbidding and unapproachable. It depends on the coffin and it depends on you. A willow coffin can have many flowers woven into it, top and sides. A minimalist approach would be to have just a single stem on top of the coffin. There is drama and beauty in that. A home made arrangement made of flowers from your garden is likely to be far more touching than a professional, production-line floral tribute picked from a catalogue.

After the funeral you can take the flowers home. Or you can donate them to a hospice or nursing home. The problem here is that flower arrangements take time to deconstruct—too much time. And MUM spelt out in flowery letters has blooms shorn of stems and is therefore useless.

In the case of a burial, flowers find a fitting and entirely satisfactory destination on top of the grave. Do remove cellophane; it makes flowers swelter.

Instead of flowers, people often ask mourners for a donation to a favourite charity. You can collect cash at the funeral, or you can ask people to donate online. They give more this way.

Be aware that some people who live in other countries or are unwell may not be able to attend a funeral so sending flowers can become very important for them in order to make their “presence” felt. People often look at who the flowers were from after a funeral.

If you want British-grown flowers in simple, beautiful arrangements, we like Great British Florist.

We also very much like Stems of New Covent Garden. They are, most unusually, funeral specialists and serve London and the home counties.