I have been designing flowers for 20 years. During those 20 years I have been busy raising children and growing a business. Never once did I imagine that this little side job of mine would become a full time job or a career that would support our whole family, and never once did I ever believe that my little flower career would give me good cause to travel.

This is my year of education, of travel, of indulgence, and my year of thanksgiving.  I will always be grateful to Laura from Faith Flowers for creating this trip to Belgium and Holland. It was most certainly time I learned from the masters. I have fallen in love with this place and the people I am meeting. I can promise you when I go to leave here my heart is going to shatter. I am meeting new and remarkable friends, friends I will most certainly not want to leave. Two of those friends are Isabel Gilbert Palmer and Gudrun Cottenier and they are the founders of the Green Academy Of Belgium. I am absolutely loving my time with them.

Our day started bright and early at the gates of  Geert Pattyn beautiful home. Geert has a remarkable studio at the property that was once owned by his parents. The property was at one time a working tobacco farm. All of the buildings have been converted into studio space, living space, or storage space. The property now boasts amazing flowers where tobacco once grew. Many of the gardens were started by Geert’s father. Geert is an amazingly talented designer and I loved his gentle soul. I could truly feel that he was a part of his land and also a part of each piece he designed. Geert most certainly is an artist!!!

Just for fun we walked down the lane to Geert’s house.

Floral art is everywhere on the property. Everything is pruned, manicured, or displayed in a very artistic way.

I love these sisters from Atlanta!!

These frames will soon be full of sweet peas.


This fabulous building was once used for drying tobacco. In this building Geert displays some of his most clever art projects. If you want to see whats inside I suggest you sign up for this trip next year. I am keeping many of my discoveries top secret!!

A dress made of corn husk. I have seen several of these floral gowns before and I have never cared for any of them. The idea always seems more artistic or odd than beautiful. This gown was everything, artistic, unique, but also truly beautiful. The gown looked like it was created with the the richest of fabrics. This gown was so worthy!!

After a full morning with Geert and another lovely meal, we headed to Gudrun’s house.

This is Gudrun, she is one of our instructors and one of the founders of The Green Academy. This picture was taken yesterday during lunch. I’m finding it really hard to get pictures of our instructors, they are moving about so fast as they diligently take care of us.

Gudruns studio is also attached to her house, this work/live environment is something I totally relate to and most certainly appreciate.

This is Haruko and Isabel. Haruko is a Japanese/Belgian designer and she was our instructor for the afternoon class.  Isabel is the other founder of The Green Academemy.

There were hundreds of non floral elements for us to design with and I am keeping all of those top secret as well. Don’t worry Chapel Designers I will share them with you in our secret forum!!!

Here are those sisters again!!!

This is the structure I made for my bouquet. If you want to know how to do this…. come to Belgium and visit with The Green Academy, Faith Flowers will be happy to bring you!!!

Making this design today and spending time creating, was incredible. I can’t believe how much I have learned in just one day. I am in awe with all of the new things I have learned, my brides are going to be very happy I invested in Holly Heider Chapple Flowers.

Another lovely design and a very lovely lady.

The night ended with more fine dinning at the very lovely restaurant Auberge du Pecheur in Sint- Martens-Latem.

Pretty impressive day!! Now I’m off to bed, I have to be up in 5 hours to hit the floral supply wholesalers. I am going to lose it there!!!!

  • jennifer Says: (04.12.2012 | 11:45)

    What an inspiring post!

  • Morgan Walker Says: (04.13.2012 | 12:47)

    Wow!!!!! So amazing!! Glad to be seeing all the photos!
    I’m so excited for you!

  • lesley frascogna Says: (04.13.2012 | 02:26)

    love you Holly!! Can’t wait to hear more!

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