I’m at a gardening workshop this weekend. Correction: I’m at a flower farming workshop for three solid days, 9 to 5. I’m in the Skagit Valley, in Washington state, in a Best Western off the I-5 where the air burns from air fresheners, the glasses are plastic and the only plants I’ve seen are fake.
Could there be a better setting for a midlife crisis?
I’m an urban gardener, not a farmer. I garden for fun, and for sustenance, and because I can’t help but grow things. I also garden because I’m fussy: My salad greens are the best I’ve tasted; my flowers last longer in the vase. I can run outside and pick a salad, or throw together an arrangement of flowers for the house, and I can do it when the mood hits me, when I think, I just need a little something…there.
This weekend will be different: a farmer-florist workshop is not for dilettantes, but devotees. Why such sanctimonious language? We shall be worshipping at the altar of Floret.
Floret is run by Erin Benzakein, a beautiful lean brunette, who when backlit by sun and foregrounded by flowers is nothing short of a goddess. She works hard, really hard, far harder than I think I can. From only a two acre farm Erin has created a virtual empire; she has followers in the thousands on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. She was just featured in a five-page spread in Martha Stewart. She has a book deal of her own after co-authoring another. And her handful of workshops—on flower farming and flower arranging—are sold out for the year.
After months of waiting, I have a spot in one of those workshops tomorrow—The Flower-Farmer Intensive. I’m lucky, but tentative, suffering from impostor syndrome, conscious I’m not the real deal.
But, I'm here, at least. Teetering on the edge of an instinct I had months ago, when I signed up. Beauty pulled me, and something about becoming, I think.