If Miss Pickering was the one who renewed my interest in flowers and piqued my curiosity with her blog, then it was five days with Katie Davis of Ponderosa and Thyme that made me believe I could have a future in flowers. Our group of sixteen met back in April and, five months later, I still miss them and look back fondly on those days as some of the happiest - and most tiring! - I have ever had. We are still in touch on social media from our respective corners of the globe, and I have seen three of them again (unsurprisingly, the three that are based in the UK). In fact, because of the many and various postings on social media, lots of people have been in touch to ask me what I thought of the course and if I would recommend it. The short answer to that is "Hell, Yes!".
I wanted to wait a few weeks before sending Katie my feedback on her wonderful workshop. I left on such a high that I wanted to wait for my feelings to settle a little so I could be pragmatic about all the things I enjoyed and also gained knowledge from - the morning foraging, the Dutch Still life I created, the bouquet way too large to carry (not compulsory, mine just ended up that way)... I planned to talk about how helpful I found it to meet Flowerona and to listen to Sarah from Wedding Sparrow - a stellar cast. Their advice has proved so helpful in the months that have followed as I have been working out my own brand identity and what my own business should look like. Of course I mentioned the gorgeous setting we worked in, the beautiful home of the Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury, the most gracious hosts you could imagine, in Wimborne St Giles, and how warm and friendly all of Katie's team were. I came home with the most beautiful images from Maria Lamb Photography and Hunting Ground Films. You know, all the things I would want to know before investing in a course like this.
It has been five months now and my feelings haven't settled. The glow I had when I left Dorset that day hasn't faded at all. The love and encouragement from Katie especially, as well as my fellow students, hasn't diminished. I arrived feeling uncertain of my own abilities and reluctant to let anyone see my work. Since I got home, I have taken time to practice every day - even on the rubbish ones when I was sure I was too tired or too busy - and have been proud of what I have done, publishing the images and finding that other people liked them, too. My brain hasn't stopped buzzing, not even at night, and each day I have taken another step towards growing my own business. I know now that I can do this, and I can do it well. (You see the American influence coming through there, I didn't even use the word "probably" in that last sentence).
I fully intend to go on other courses with other floral artists as I work to further refine my own style. And I'll enjoy them and learn skill sets from them and probably absorb a little bit of their style into my own along the way. I'll even blog about them if anyone is interested (let me know!). But it was five days in Dorset with Katie that made me believe I could do it, and know that I really, really wanted to.
Postscript: Since the time of writing my blog, the wonderful Pilar of Gorgeous and Green has written a much fuller account of her time on the same course. For anyone who is interested, or thinking of going on a future retreat, I would highly recommend having a good read.
Meanwhile, here is a photo of the beautiful Pilar on a morning foraging trip. I think the joy on her face sums up how we were all feeling.