Passing by Sweet Pea’s Floral, it might not be immediately obvious that miraculous transformations are occurring within. Empty containers quickly burst with the whimsy of a May Day basket one day, and enchanting fairy gardens are bewitched into being the next. These magical creations are crafted under the careful instruction of the enthusiastic staff at the family-owned-and-operated floral shop in Woodbury.
The shop, which specializes in custom arrangements for weddings, funerals, gift baskets and more, has recently expanded its offerings to include classes, open to groups paying a fee for a hands-on crafting project. According to Sweet Pea’s owner Tara Carlson, the inspiration behind the change was to offer a service that has not been provided in the area previously. “I noticed that other classes don’t give people a hands-on experience, or let you create crafts yourself,” she says. “People want the chance to play. With just a little instruction from us, they’re ready to go. They love getting their hands dirty and being able to be creative with the supplies we offer them—especially the kids.”
Honoring this demand for creative offerings, Carlson set up a large table in Sweet Pea’s storefront, which serves as a canvas for the various visions dreamt up by the students. “I thought of what we sell and what we know people are interested in,” Carlson says of her process creating the courses. “A lot of our customers are constantly asking, ‘How do you do that?’ and it seemed logical to teach them in a group setting.”
Last spring, classes included terrarium building, instructions on assembling bulb gardens and a session on air plants. Class dates and times vary, as Carlson says they try to find a time that works for both staff and the groups hoping to take a class. Participants range from daycare groups to bridal showers to active seniors. “The fairy garden classes are by far the most popular,” Carlson says. For those not in the know, fairy gardens are constructed by filling a container with soil, plants, miniscule rock paths, miniature swings and houses, and of course, a fairy.
Terri Heimerman brought her granddaughters to Sweet Pea’s to create fairy gardens, and says, “It was as magical as you want a fairy garden to be. Tara made the experience really amazing, giving us beautiful bowls and showing us how to add the different layers. Each fairy garden came with the container, as many plants as you wanted and one fairy. The kids were just fascinated, and they could really use their imaginations.”
While the shop has alerted the public to upcoming classes on their Facebook page, news of the classes has mainly spread by word of mouth, thanks to enthusiastic participants such as Heimerman, who are leaving the classes with rave reviews. “People love it,” Carlson says, remembering when a group of sisters came in, literally bouncing with excitement about the task ahead. Sweet Pea’s provides snacks and beverages of the group’s choice, and encourages a relaxed and fun environment focused on creating and exploring.
“The little kids crack me up when they come in,” Carlson says. “They’re so creative! They see something totally different than what I originally plan on working on with them.”
This fall, Carlson is planning to hold the ever-popular fairy gardens and terrariums classes with a “fall twist.” Some of her ideas for other classes include an instructive session on creating an autumnal wreath; creating, installing and decorating seasonal planters that can last through the winter; constructing a personal holiday wreath; and holiday-themed centerpieces created from items commonly found in a backyard.