There are few people around Ballarat who would not have seen Jenny Burke’s floral artistry over the past 30 years. Born Jennifer Anne Turley on the 3rd December 1954, the popular florist passed away suddenly on April 1 2021, aged 66, after suffering a brain aneurysm, but left a legacy of beautiful, colourful memories for thousands of people across the region.
Hundreds of tributes on social media were testament to the lives she touched and the memories she helped to make at weddings, funerals, special occasions and events throughout the region.
Gary Burke, her husband of 42 years, said Jenny’s passion for flowers and people made a lasting impression.
“Jenny was a very caring person. She was artistic and had been a florist for over 30 years … a very kind person who was well-liked by everyone,” he said.
“She remembered people who she had done flowers for their wedding (decades ago) who were getting remarried, or their children were getting married and she could remember what flowers they carried … lots of minor details.”
The couple had the Green Village Florist in Armstrong Street for about four years before moving to Little Bridge Street and rebranding to Jenny Burke Florist more than 25 years ago.
“I think I’ve been to every florist shop in Victoria and beyond,” Mr Burke said. “Every place we went to, she said ‘lets have a look at the florist shop’. She just had a passion for flowers and was always learning about different types of floristry.”
Their romance began at a community youth dance at St Patrick’s Hall, though they had known each other for a while before that night. “I asked if I could drive her home but she had to ask her big brother if it was OK. He said ‘Burkey is probably OK’ and that was probably the beginning.”
Kaitlyn Gunnell did her apprenticeship and all her work as a florist with Mrs Burke and is in shock at her sudden passing.
“It just doesn’t feel real,” she said. “She was an amazing mentor and an amazing florist.
“Her quality of work and workmanship, every single thing she did was always 100 per cent. Nothing ever left the shop that wasn’t perfect and she really prided herself on being the best.”
Ms Gunnell and several other florists who have worked with Mrs Burke over the years will gather to design the flowers her funeral.
“Classic, elegant and artistic are words that describe her and what we will try to convey in the flowers. Her artistic flair was the point of difference she had in Ballarat.”
Employee Amy Bonar said Mrs Burke was known for her “big smile and bright lipstick” and would be missed by her family, friends, customers and fellow traders. “She would just go above and beyond for people.”
Jenny is buried at the Ballarat New Cemetery Lawn K Row 17 Grave 20.