For my 40th birthday (last November) I decided to gift myself an adventure.
I thought about a big trip - maybe Tokyo or somewhere else far away - probably with Aaron in tow. As I started to explore my options something about Floret's flower workshops popped up (either via email or on Instagram or something) and I decided that would be my gift to myself if I was able to get in (registration sells out almost immediately). I started following Floret after seeing their farm and flowers in a magazine in the last few years - maybe Country Living or Living - and seeing their awesome photography and their love of many of my favorite flowers (dahlias, peonies, sweet peas, etc). Sign me up.
After reading the workshop descriptions and checking my calendar the June Seasonal Floral Intensive: Peonies worked best. These workshops - both the flower intensives and the flower farming intensives - are really designed for people who work with flowers either as designers or farmers but people who just love flowers are also welcome (that's me). During the workshop weekend Erin and her team share their creativity, their business knowledge (social media and web stuff), and their knowledge of flowers and farming.
I have a deep love for flowers. There are long flower-cultivating traditions on both sides of my family - my Dad's parents who spent many of their years on the Oregon coast and my Mom's parents who spent most of their years on the Eastern side of the mountains in Oregon (wheat farming) and some of their later years on the Oregon coast. Both sets of grandparents and my parents loved being outside and loved cultivating flowers.
I also have zero experience with professional floral design. Around here I love bringing the outside in - cutting flowers from my yard and putting them into vases and spreading them around the house. That's the extent of my experience. For many of you memory keeping is your hobby - for me it's my job and what keeps a roof over our heads (and as you know I love it and it's simply a part of me). Embracing a hobby like flowers that I can sink into seems like a pretty darn good healthy idea.
Bottom line, I'm working on getting a life and this was an awesome way to kick it off.
Today I want to share a bit about my workshop experience at Floret:
On Instagram I shared this photo with these words as I began my adventure:
For my 40th birthday last November I decided to celebrate by signing myself up for a totally new experience. Today I'm making the 7 hour drive up north past Seattle to Mt. Vernon to attend a @floretflower workshop. I was accompanied on the first half of my drive by my friend of over 25 years @paololiloc - hard to beat a friend who will fly down to drive back up to where he came from with you just to hang out. The second half of the drive I'm making on my own - blasting music as loud as I can stand it. Tomorrow starts a 3-day #floretworkshop where I'm going to learn something new about some of my favorite flowers (peonies, sweet peas, etc) and hopefully discover a few more things about myself along the way.
After arriving in Mt. Vernon I met three brand new friends (met via a Facebook group for the event) and we headed to dinner. It was an awesome start to this adventure - especially when one of the first people I met is also someone who just loves flowers and isn't a floral designer or a flower farmer (at least not yet).
I loved going there knowing no one. The girls I met on my first night were such a great part of the whole of my experience.
Walking into the barn on Day One we were greeted with buckets and buckets and buckets of blooms and greens.
We probably spent at least 30 minutes or more just walking around and smelling the blooms and taking photos.
Everything was organized by color - I loved this purple corner.
After our morning session where we shared introductions and intentions (you know I loved that) we headed over to Erin's home farm (the barn where we were based in a friend's farm) to walk the fields, cut flowers for the arrangements we would be making over the next few days, and see the operation.
I can't tell you how cool it was to just walk around and see her set up - the rows, the greenhouses, etc.
This is a small-farming operation that is optimized for production.
Yes, I couldn't stop smiling. Especially in the rows of sweet peas that are taller than me (and I'm 5'9).
Erin gave a tutorial about cutting and things to put in the water after you harvest.
Our task after the initial instruction was to fill the truck with blooms for our arrangements.
I love learning. Love, love, love it.
Even the discard piles were held beauty for me. Actually what I loved most about this shot was the red barn along the horizon line.
And then we started harvesting. It was so fun to see what people carried back to the truck.
I had just as much fun taking pictures as harvesting flowers.
The truck beginning to fill up.
The lovely Erika of @junesblooms on Instagram taking photos of anyone who wanted one holding this awesome collection of pink Stock.
There's even beauty on the ground.
A view of the truck from the side as we got ready to head back to the barn.
Bulging out of the back of the truck.
We received an extensive workbook that included personal development exercises, goal setting, floral pricing information, resources, etc.
We also all got a copy of the book Now, Discover Your Strengths and our homework for the first night was to take the Strengths Finder test. My top five strengths results shouldn't be too much of a surprise (ha):
Dinner with my new friends as we recapped our first full day. So much laughing and talking and story sharing.
Day Two started with a demo from Erin about creating an arrangement in an urn.
Seriously, I was jumping out of my skin excited because this was all new to me and I was so ready to just dive in and play.
Our working spaces in the barn. Mine was right there in the front.
My first official arrangement in an urn!!! I don't use very many exclamation points but this one really deserves it because it was totally how I felt in the moment.
One of my biggest takeaways from this workshop experience was the use of greenery. It gave me a whole new perspective of both things I might want to grow in my yard and use when I bring the outside in.
Our next task was to create a hand bouquet. Again, a first for me.
Pink, pink, pink.
During the event there was a professional photographer shooting our activities and they had a model there to hold each of our bouquets (awesome for people who need professional shots to advertise their design work). She's holding my bouquet.
After a full day of making stuff with flowers we headed to dinner. More laughing and sharing.
We started Day Three creating arrangements in compotes.
These were made to line our dinner table later in the day. I loved doing this.
This is my friend Marianne's bouquet. Check out her Instagram account @poseypop - she also does really awesome chalk art - she's in the Orange County area if you are around there and looking for a floral designer or chalk artist.
Marianne took this shot of me on the cement in the barn shooting away.
We also got to make a bracelet or flower crown. This is the bracelet I created. So cool.
As a group we worked to design and installation and set a table for our farewell dinner. Obviously it included tons of flowers down the table and all around.
A view from above in the barn down at the table and the space we worked in earlier in the day.
Our amazing farm to table feast was catered by Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt.
I think one of the things I really loved about this event was that everything was new to me: people, places, things. I was a complete beginner and it was fantastic.
Huge thank you to Erin and all her team for such an awesome, inspiring, life-affirming experience. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and creativity and experience.
PS // I knew, as I was living through this weekend on my own, that it would likely be a life-marker. A life-marker is one of those experiences with a before and an after - an experience that changes you or an experience that really quite literally marks the beginning of a new phase of life. At the time I couldn't have told you just what it was marking, but now after being home for a month I know that it was my own personal entrance into the next chapter of my life as Aaron and I intentionally begin to merge our lives together. More on that in another post to come.