How did it happen that we found ourselves flying over Quito, Ecuador and looking down on the many greenhouses while preparing to land? Find out by following along with us on this fantastic trip and experience part of the magic of this flower adventure with Mayesh Wholesale!
A few months before, we had made the decision to sign up for Mayesh’s first international workshop. I had the pleasure of doing a workshop with Mayesh in Cleveland, Ohio a couple of years previously and it was a wonderful, worthwhile experience. It became quite obvious to me that the Quito Workshop would simply be an opportunity of a life-time!
Quito is located in the Andes mountain range and is 9,000 some feet above sea level. Even though it is on the equator the average temperature is in the 60’s because of the high altitude. March is their rainy season so everything was lush and green. The soil is rich with volcanic matter and combined with the temperate weather it is a perfect environment for growing roses and many other flowers.
The event took place at Hacienda Cusin, a restored 17th century estate which was a perfect location for our “hands-on” workshop. The whole estate was a gorgeous garden setting with humming birds and beautiful flowers and plants. It contained multiple buildings built around charming courtyards.
We landed in Quito on Monday, March 4th where we were met and brought to the hacienda. After checking into our rooms, we were served lunch and got a prelude to the kind of warm hospitality and excellent service by the staff we would be given the rest of the week. The food was delicious and there were fresh juices at breakfast and lunch made from local fruits some of which grow only in Ecuador. The Mayesh staff warmly welcomed us and we soon realized that we would be in very good hands!
Our room had a front door as well as a back door which led straight into the garden.
This was the view from our backdoor!
It was hard to limit the number of photos that I am posting here because there were so many beautiful areas of the property with meandering stone paths.
Of course many things that we grow as annuals at home here in zone 5 are perennials here in Ecuador and get quite large such as these succulents and fuschia.
The workshop area was located in one of the courtyards set up under tents since it was the rainy season. We ended up having beautiful weather both days of workshops. When we arrived on Monday, the Mayesh staff had much of the workshop materials set up and ready to go for Tuesday morning. Most of the flowers were processed and sitting in buckets all around the edge of the courtyard completely wooing us with so much beauty and variety. I was so excited, that I was afraid I would not sleep a wink that night!!
Tuesday’s workshops were with Holly Chappel and even though I have already studied with Holly and am a Chapel Designer, I was thrilled to have the review and be personally instructed by Holly using her “eggs” and “pillows” mechanics that she designed and Syndicate Sales developed and markets. Holly also gave a class on running a successful floral business. Having so many lush, gorgeous blooms to work with was a dream and is a signature of the Mayesh workshop experience. And then if that was not enough, they had models and a professional photographer to photograph our designs. The two photos below are by Nicole Clarey.
My bohemian “garden style” bouquet using Holly’s egg mechanic. Any bride would certainly be thrilled to carry this for her bridal bouquet!!
My design created in the Abbey compote bowl using the “pillow” mechanic which allows for foam free designs which are better for the flowers as well as the environment.
Our second day of workshops on Wednesday were with Sue McLeary of Passion Flower Sue. I had been exposed to some of Sue’s work on Instagram and so I was super excited to learn some of her ingenious foam free mechanics for small detailed wearable art as well as large scale installations.
First we learned the mechanics to create the large foam free installations. We divided into groups and under Sue’s direction created two fantastic large scale installations – a floral arch and a floral waterfall. The sheer amount of flowers we had to work with was stupendous and the creations so jaw-dropping fantastic, it seemed as if we were in a dream!!! The next three photos below are by Nicole Clarey.
The next part of the workshop was learning the mechanics for various wearable flowers of which Sue is “Queen!!” I chose to do a floral crown and loved how lush and beautiful it turned out.
My work station where the magic happened!!
Here is a peak behind the scenes in the courtyard where the large scale installations were created. Many hands made light work and such beautiful creations!!
Of course we all wore our wearable floral art to dinner that night and did I already mention how delicious the food was and how well we all hit if off enjoying each other and bonding, not with just each other but the wonderful Mayesh staff as well!!!!???
After we finished our wearable floral art, we were allowed to forage the property along the creek where we found a delightful mix of branches and greens to use as a foundation for our large scale urn arrangement workshop with Veronica Cicero of Anthology Co. We worked in pairs of two and my partner was Mary McCarty A.I.F.D. of The Blooming Idea. She was a great partner and we loved what we created together!!
Thursday was the day we got to go out and visit some flower farms. The first stop was Greenrose Farm where we received a complete tour and explanation of the operation. They started by showing us how they hybridize the seedlings into root-stock, took us through greenhouse operations of care and handling (including the water treatment and recycling), continued through the ingenious harvesting methods and ended up in the packing facility. We were all very impressed by not only the care of the roses, but the care of the employees also. This farm was the first and is one of only five that grow the new variety “Toffee” which is a beautiful and unusual golden brown color. Greenrose staff handed out hats and gave us snacks and drinks at the end of the tour.
It was a joy to make new friendships and I was so happy that a couple of other designers brought their spouses/companions along as I did. These guys hit it off perfectly while we florists took part in the workshops. Our guys got to tour the farms and partake of the tourist activities as well.
The next farm we visited was Valleflor where they served us a hot lunch. This farm grows a wide variety of flowers and hybridized many new varieties. I was really amazed by the large beautiful hybrid delphinium and the beautiful new colors. After seeing both farms operations and how much care goes into a single stem, it helps to understand and justify the cost of flowers. The flower farms are important in this area as they employ many people and the soil and climate is very conducive for growing large headed roses and many varieties of flowers.
The day was topped by being invited to the owner of Greenrose Farm’s horse farm where we enjoyed incredible hospitality, watched the show horses perform and were treated to rides.
We were also treated to an incredibly delicious dinner where we could enjoy the beauty of the mountain scenery from the open air living area.
Friday was our day to be tourists. We did a walking tour of old town Quito and had lunch in one of the plaza restaurants. Our guide gave us the history of Ecuador and explained how they came to use the dollar as their currency.
A view of the Basilica del Voto Nacional. This church is the largest of all neo-Gothic cathedrals in the western hemisphere.
Old town Quito is a UNESCO historic site with its colonial architecture and collection of churches, convents, palaces and plazas. We had time to visit some shops and purchase some of the famous chocolate.
For our last evening together they provided a fantastic outdoor candlelit barbeque dinner in the garden complete with Ecuadorian dancers. We all felt a little sad as our magical time together was drawing to a close. Some had very early morning flights so we said our good-bye’s. Mayesh gave us each a gift of a mohair scarf made in Ecuador. Can we just say that Mayeshwholesale completely exceeded our expectations for this trip?!!!! The trip was perfectly planned and they were so thoughtful of our every need. We all pretty much decided we want to be with them for their next international workshop – Bring it on!!!!
This was our front door where inside a fire was lit in the fireplace each night and hot-water bottles warmed our beds. The staff at Hacienda Cusin couldn’t have treated us any better. We would highly recommend this resort to anyone ever planning a trip to Quito.
A few of us had later flights out on Saturday so we had time to take a taxi over to the Otavalo Market which is undoubtedly the most important and specatcular market in all of Latin America for its outstanding shopping and cultural significance. We only had time to get through a fraction of the market but we enjoyed seeing the indigenous population and their handicrafts.
After the July publication comes out in which this workshop will be featured, we are looking forward to having access to all of the professional photos from this trip. It will be like taking the trip and feeling the magic all over again and we can’t wait!!
Many thank to all of our sponsors: @greenrose_ecudor, @ez.flower, @valleflorec, @accentdecorinc, @oasisfloralproducts, @syndicatesales, @agricolaelchaupi, @alexandrafarms, @bellaflorgroup, @rosaprimaroses, @valleverderoses, @decorentalec, @UPS
Vendors: @nicoleclareyphoto, @talewindvisuals, @hacienda_cusin_ecuador
Designers: @hollychappel, @passionflowersue, @anthologyco