I never would have thought it possible. It really was a dream. I had been following her blog for a very long time, and the thought of actually meeting her in person, was just a dream. And then the dream became a reality.
For those of you who don’t already know her, this is Erin Benzakein. With the help of her handy ‘McGyver’ husband, she runs a small organic flower farm and floral design studio, Floret, in Washington’s lush Skagit Valley, about an hour north of Seattle. I could easily fill pages and pages of this post, telling you all about the daily responsibilities she has and the accomplishments she’s achieved, but it’s probably easier if you just take a peek at her blog at http://www.floretflowers.com/blog/
I will tell you about her latest achievement though. Probably her best one yet. 3 days ago, Erin proudly accepted the 2014 Martha Stewart’s American Made Design Award.
Through American Made, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living are spotlighting the next generation of great American makers: entrepreneurs, artisans, and small-business owners who are creating beautiful, inspiring, useful products; pioneering new industries; improving local communities; and changing the way we eat, shop, work, and live.
Congratulations Erin! I think your dream became a reality as well!
Now back to my adventure! Fellow friend and floral designer Lindsay Sisko and I flew out to Seattle for one of Floret’s seasonal workshops. Although we weren’t sure exactly what to expect, Lindsay knew that she would definitely need ‘a moment’ in Erin’s dahlia patch, where she would kiss the ground and probably even cry a little. Silly girl. I just knew that I was going to suck in every little word she said like a sponge!
It really is a beautiful city, and we were definitely sleepless. Afterall, there was so much to see and do…and ohhhh, don’t even get me started on the shopping!!
When we finally had our fill of shopping, awesome food, and amazing Seattle coffee, we headed out to Skagit Valley. There we met so many amazingly talented and hard working women, who were just as eager to learn from Erin, her husband Chris, her lovely assistant Jill and her kind hearted and equally talented friend Sue Prutting from White Magnolia Floral Designs – http://whitemagnoliadesigns.com/White_Magnolia_Floral_Designs/Welcome.html
The fields were overflowing with gorgeous blooms. From zinnias, to sunflowers, marigolds to campanula and so much more. Unique flowers like cup and saucer vine, hops, and love in a puff vine. They were unique to us ‘zone 4’ growers at least!
But what I really couldn’t wait to see were her “Cafe Au Lait” dahlias. Although I had grown them for myself this year, I knew hers would be spectacular. And they were. Were they ever! Look at the size of these babies!!
There was a huge download of growing information from setting up a hoop house, to seed planting, to fertilizing and then some. Erin and Chris work so well as a team.
Then came the good stuff. We finally got to watch her in action!
Now it was our turn. Lindsay and I were like kids in a candy store! Harvesting flower after flower, whatever we wanted! By the truckload! We were used to working with flowers back at home in the flower shop, but these flowers felt special for a reason. They were Erin’s!
The flowers were brought back to a huge and amazingly gorgeous barn. What a place! Is there anything more inspiring then creating in a barn! I don’t think so.
So these are the pieces I came up with. First an arrangement and then a bouquet. Hope you like them.
I’ll never forget my experience in Seattle and everything I learned, not only from Erin and Chris, but also from Sue and Jill. I met some amazing women, who I share so much in common with and I made some new friends from all over North America. I would highly recommend this workshop for anyone who is as passionate about flowers as I am. Cheers ~ Carole