Passion for Flowers

“If a man has two pennies he

should buy a loaf of bread

with one ~ which will

sustain his life ~and

a flower with the other~

which will give him a reason to live~

Chinese Proverb

This proverb, written in delicate calligraphy and  protected by glass in a black frame, hung in my Mom’s sewing room when I grew up. Since 2001 it has graced my studio; I like to point it out to friends and clients alike.

These words very much reflect a way of life that I grew up with in Belgium: flowers were an every day presence in our home. Because we didn’t have a car for many years, Mom would bike to the farmer’s market three times a week. She would fill her two brown bike bags to the brim with fresh fruits and vegetables and once a week she also would bring home flowers. To my delight, it often was my ‘job’ to arrange the flowers in one or several vases any way I pleased.

In late winter and early spring, the fragrance of hyacinth bulbs that she had forced perfumed the living room. To this day, every time I see hyacinths, I have to smell them and I always get carried back to my childhood.

Every year Mom would grow flowers from seeds. The large windows in my father’s study faced east; wide windowsills, above the radiators, offered the perfect spot for the wooden boxes in which she meticulously had sown a wide variety of annuals. Tags, bearing the name of the variety of the flowers  and the sowing date, were stuck into the fluffy soil. Plastic, poked with tiny holes to prevent condensation, covered the boxes, til the seedlings were large enough to grow without that ‘greenhouse condition’. Late spring she would plant all those annuals in the garden and we all would enjoy them throughout the summer.

When invited to a dinner party, flowers were the traditional gift. And flowers always were part of any special occasion or holiday. For my Mom’s birthday or anniversary I loved to go to our family florist to pick out a special arrangement. Within a few blocks radius from our home, were three thriving flower shops, but we always would buy flowers from the Hendricks family who owned a very successful and creative business. The first floor of this old home had been transformed into a magical shop; dozens of vases, filled with many varieties of seasonal and tropical flowers were dispersed throughout the space. It is here that I had my first job in a flower shop. Very generously they all shared many tricks of the trade during the time that I trained with them.

So, no wonder that from a very early age, I developed a real passion for those delightful gifts from Mother Nature. I’ve always loved arranging flowers to enjoy at home or to give to friends; in the last 30 years I have taken great pleasure in growing my own garden.

I look forward to writing about creative flower arranging, care of cut flowers, seasonal flowers and much more. Please ask questions or make comments. I look forward to good conversations with you!

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