Flower Power

May 01, 2019

Photograph by Kaitlyn Chow

With the rebirth of spring upon us, Chef Christine Moss reminisces about the power of flowers that has thread through her life

You know what they say…April showers bring May flowers…

And who doesn’t like flowers? Can there possibly be anyone out there who hasn’t smiled at the first colorful signs of spring emerging? I hope not.

May is my favorite month of the year for very selfish reasons — it’s my birthday month. Growing up, while we celebrated everyone’s birthdays, it wasn’t always celebrated on the actual day due to work schedules. This is how a new tradition emerged: I learned to enjoy not only the week of my birthday, but instead, the entire month. I highly suggest treating yourself to this much love (try it, you’ll like it. Trust me).

And flowers have always been an integral part of my celebrations.

Please celebrate with me and bring flowers into your life if they aren’t already there. There are so many ways to do so; cut flowers in vases, planting flowers in pots and in the garden, edible flowers on cakes and in salads, bathing with flower petals, visiting a botanical garden...just bask in some flower power — it’s so good for the soul.

I was very fortunate growing up to be spoiled with masses of beautiful flowers. You see, my father was a florist, a really great one who worked on Madison Avenue in New York City. In flower shops (as with food in restaurants) there reaches a point where the flowers can no longer be sold, even though they still may look good — and so my father would bring them home. Often our house was so full of flowers it looked like a set for a fairy photoshoot. He would arrive with armloads of roses and chrysanthemums, astromelias and sometimes even birds of paradise (they were a big thing in the 80’s). But I still remember my favorite being yellow freesias, elegant and deeply fragrant — sweet, buttery and peppery all at once.

I would hang eucalyptus and roses upside down in my room to dry. I placed little vases of flowers on my desk and by my bed. I was surrounded by their delicate energy and looking back, I believe they helped to comfort the challenges of teenage life in the city — though I probably took it for granted at the time.

Later when I moved out on my own, surprisingly, it never occurred to me to buy flowers for myself.

I’m not sure why. Maybe I was too worried about paying bills to splurge on the cost of flowers. But once my daughter started going to school, I began buying her flowers for special occasions and my memory and love of flowers was reborn. Cut flowers became a staple on my grocery shopping. Food for the eyes and the heart.  

Rescued Chrysanthemum buds thriving in their new environment; photograph by Christine Moss

Just recently, chrysanthemum flowers were featured on our ‘specials’ menu in the cafe. As I was prepping the leaves, I noticed that many of them had tight little flower buds at the ends. I saved a few and kept them in water hoping they would bloom. After about two weeks I noticed they were growing roots at the ends of the stems so I brought them home and planted them in the dirt of my new garden. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.

—Chef Christine Moss, The Garden Café Woodstock

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