This past April I had the amazing opportunity to attend a Ponderosa Workshop in the English Countryside. What? you say. Yes, I say. A floral design workshop for floral designers (and a few new-to-flowers) in England, in the country, on a famous Manor, in a house that holds famous philosophical texts, amidst beautiful gardens and water. There are even a few horses there. Now, the English Countryside is beautiful.  But this location was totally breathtaking.  I mean, it's a magazine cover kind of situation (cue Wedding Sparrow).  The bulk of our days and evenings were spent at the St Giles House.  A beautiful estate with a rich history.

The St Giles house in England, by Maria Lamb

the house, photo by

If you studied American history, British history, philosophy, government and the like, you might have heard of John Locke.  Well, let's just say one of his best buds was The First Earl of Shaftesbury, and he owned this house many moons ago. He himself was a politician (religious freedom, etc) and quite the philosopher as well.

The Earl of Shaftesbury and Countess

The Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury, photo by Maria Lamb.

Fast forward to the present: The current owner of the house at St Giles is also an Earl of Shaftesbury.  He and his wife, the Countess, have taken great care in restoring and updating St Giles, and it's a beauty to behold.  They are fabulous people and have a long list of accolades, as they do a lot of things to benefit their community and the public. I won't divulge too much here, but let's just say the world is a better place with them in it, and the next time I have a chance to share a bottle of wine and conversation with them, I will not hesitate. So back to the workshop... We've already set the stage with the beautiful location.  

For the actual workshop part, the players continue to impress. Our teacher and workshop leader was Katie Davis of Ponderosa and Thyme.  What a lovely woman and human.  Her soft yet strong encouragement; her vibrant smile and whimsical artistry; her poise and welcoming demeanor. The list goes on. She was a fantastic workshop leader and allowed us to experience the full breath of the land and space in that countryside paradise.  She has a beautiful soul, and her creations dare to match.

Katie Davis, of Ponderosa and Thyme

Katie Davis, photo by Maria Lamb

You have to believe, this was a once in a lifetime experience with such wonderful people, and I am so fortunate to have made the journey. Speaking of people, there were so many beautiful souls with such different and unique artistic talent.  I can't talk about this workshop without mentioning all the magical hands that were there to create and help us create (all photos by Maria Lamb). So, I'm going to introduce all the participants in the workshop so you can get a sense of the skill and artistry that prevailed at this event.

Hana of Ponk Rentals
Hana of Ponk Rentals
Daniela of Muraki Studio
Daniela of Meraki Studio 
Cristina of Aqueduto Eventos
Cristina of Aqueduto Eventos 
Tara of Freckled Flora
Tara of Freckled Flora 
Anna of Inflorium
Anna of Inflorium 
Megan of Isle de Flores
Megan of Isle de Flores 
And our supportive Workshop Staff:
Mark of Bigwig Donuts 
model: Maisy Taylor
ribbons/silks: Silk and Willow
film scans: Photo Vision Prints
Our days were spent foraging on the grounds of the St Giles House:

Foraging for flower arrangements at St Giles, England

Learning and trying techniques during Katie's workshops in the St Giles Library:

Katie from Ponderosa and Thyme teaching at St Giles

We were treated to a plethora of beautiful blooms, many of which were grown in England. (cue tulips from Electric Daisy Flower Farm) The textures, colors and abundance made the heart sing.

Film photo by Maria Lamb of Katie at St Giles

The details of this experience were numerous, and I would love to share more about the creativity and beauty that took place in the English Countryside. Stay tuned for another installment of Creating Dreams in the English Countryside at the Ponderosa Workshop.

Pilar Zuniga designing flowers at St Giles Ponderosa Workshop

 A photo of me. All photos by Maria Lamb.

Read more..... In this next installment.

September 29, 2016 — Pilar Zuniga

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