August 8 - 10, 2024
3 days of botanical arts immersion

creative retreat

Join Cara of Cara's Garden and Sarah of Atwater Designs this summer in West Chester, PA for an intimate, transformative retreat - 3 days of glorious botanical art education, meals and goodies in the studio and garden!

august 8-10, 2024 | WEST CHESTER, PA

reserve your spot

guide to the brandywine valley

Imagine stepping into a gentle sanctuary where time slows down, allowing you to breathe deeply and carve out precious moments for inspired creativity. 

Join us for a three-day immersion in the botanical arts.

Over three transformative days, you will learn botanical sketching and watercolor from Cara, while Sarah will teach you her signature techniques for making cyanotypes. These unhurried sessions will awaken your senses and ignite your creativity.


What you will discover and create:

  • Inspiration and Collection: Learn to observe and collect nature's subtle beauty, transforming fleeting moments into enduring inspirations
  • Drawing and Painting: With expert guidance, learn how to describe plants in pencil and with watercolor paint
  • Cyanotypes: Dive into the fascinating world of cyanotype, creating on both paper and fabric and learn how to manipulate the process

This retreat is more than an opportunity to learn new skills; it's a chance to join a community of like-minded creatives who share your passion for the natural world and the arts. It's a time to slow down and reconnect with your creativity.

Spaces are limited for this exclusive retreat to ensure a personalized and immersive experience for every participant. Reserve your spot now and prepare to deepen yourself into an exploration that will refresh your spirit, enrich your practice, and leave you with inspiration to draw from long after the retreat ends.


HELLO, we're
Sarah & Cara!

and we're thrilled to be your mentors and hosts for an unforgettable retreat experience in the scenic heart of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

With over two decades of passion and expertise in our respective fields—Cara, bringing more than 25 years of intricate botanical painting to life, and Sarah, weaving 20 years of up-leveled cyanotype creations—we are here to guide you through three days of unparalleled artistic exploration and personal growth.

Our retreat is more than just a learning experience; it's a transformative journey. You may arrive feeling overwhelmed, seeking inspiration, or perhaps at a crossroads in your creative journey or personal life. After spending three days with us, we hope you will leave with a rejuvenated spirit, newfound skills, and, most importantly, a fresh outlook. The magic of this transformation is a combination of collective energy and a supportive environment where creativity flows freely.

We're not just teaching techniques; we're inviting you to rediscover your passion, to connect with like-minded creative women, and to find within yourself a source of inspiration that perhaps you didn't know existed.

We eagerly await the opportunity to welcome you to our retreat and share in these moments of joy, discovery, and artistic exploration. Let's embark on this adventure together and see where this journey of creativity and community can take us.

We hope to see you this year in West Chester. Until then, keep nurturing your creative spirit, and remember—the magic is waiting for you.

xoxo, Sarah + Cara

October 2022, fate led my husband John and me (Sarah) to a 'For Sale' sign outside a house we'd long admired on our frequent jaunts from our West Chester home to Stroud Preserve. Dated back to 1802, this house, with its two-story garage, a former fabric studio*, is nestled in a breathtaking patch of Chester County. The moment we spotted that sign, we seized the opportunity for a visit and only a few days later our offer was on the table. It just felt right, as if life here was waiting for us. The moment I stepped inside, I knew I was home. Now, the gardens are bursting with life, the studio is steadily shaping up, and I can hardly contain my excitement to welcome you! Here you'll find ample space to learn, explore, reflect, and savor your own slice of heaven. There is such anticipation at the prospect of having you here! 
* studio is on the 2nd floor and is not handicap accessible 

the location

Thursday, August 8 - 1:00 - 9:00 pm
1:00 pm Arrival, Orientation + Creative Warm-Up
5:00 pm Drinks + Welcome Dinner

Friday, August 9 - 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
 9:00 am – Arrive at the studio, light breakfast, a full day of creative inspiration and learning the art of cyanotype with Sarah
12:30 - 1:30 pm – Lunch in the garden
1:30 pm – Afternoon session with Sarah
6:00 pm – Dinner on your own

Saturday, August 10 – 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
10:00 am – Arrive at the studio, light breakfast, a full day of immersion into the art of botanical observation, sketching, and painting with Cara
12:30 - 1:30 pm – Lunch in the garden
1:30 pm – Afternoon session with Cara
5:00 pm – Cocktail reception and sharing of work
6:30 pm – Celebration dinner
10:00 pm - Depart

Here's what we have planned for you:

If you are coming from out of town, download the guide for places to stay, local restaurants, and must-visit sites in the Brandywine Valley

Sip leisurely coffee in downtown West Chester and find calm in Philadelphia's lush gardens. With easy air access and ride share services, logistics are easy! Whether airbnb, vrbo, or a cozy stay in an area B+B, you'll find the Brandywine Valley a perfect spot to recharge your creative heart. There are lots of fabulous area accommodations for out-of-towners.

*lodging is not included in the retreat price

download the guide

Bringing creatives together is our thing!

"The retreat was a gift - a low pressure day to relax, have deep meaningful conversations with fellow creatives, experiment and have fun. I left the retreat energized and grateful."


"Sarah is a gracious host. She really makes you feel at home and gives you space to channel your childlike wonder and curiosity. She gives you the tools and the safety to just play. Her family is so incredibly welcoming by cooking and serving us all day, I did not want to leave! Her studio is filled with accents of whimsy and archetypes of nature, it was refreshing and exciting to walk around and explore her studio space and garden. She is organized and it makes you feel good to learn in her space. The next day and throughout the rest of my week I was energized and inspired. How lucky I felt to be able to do this for myself and my art practice. I would do it again in a heartbeat!


$1750 | $1850


3 Days of Botanical Art in West Chester, PA*
*does not include lodging
Drawing and Painting
Botanical Cocktail Class
Fresh Summer Food + Drink
Box of Botanical Arts Goodies


more kind words:

Sarah's retreat felt more special because it was truly about celebrating our creativity, what makes us each unique, what ties us together, and allowed for bonding and downtime. I really enjoyed every second of it and felt more like myself than I have in a long time!"

Cynthia Oswald | @cynthiaoswalddesign

"The magic that was bringing together all of these women can't be bottled up and served online."

anna patterson | @atpattersondesign

"No matter how useful of a tool zoom is, there is nothing like being able to have the in person connection that a retreat offers. Especially with something like this where you get to step away from the daily distractions of life & spend the entire day being around other creatives.

tina crespo | @tinacrespo

"You may be thinking, can I really step away from life? Is it really worth it to spend time in person? The answer is an irrefutable yes."

charlotte rosen | @movementdesignedtofeelgood


"The warm, encouraging space that Cara has created with the Flora Botanical Arts Community has allowed me to find a lost part of my soul. I see beauty all around me every day with new eyes and feel that old familiar pull to dream and create. I have visions of what I want to sketch or paint, and Cara's teaching style has helped me develop skills to bring things out of my head and onto paper in ways I didn't know were possible for me
I have literally reclaimed a lost part of myself. I'm savoring a life that is filled with all the beautiful habits that are part of making botanical art -- slow time in nature and gardens, appreciating the intricacy of everything as I work out a sketch or a painting, and time spent with other people who value and support those creative endeavors""The magic that was bringing together all of these women can't be bottled up and served online."

keri innes

Frequent Questions

How much is the retreat?

The cost is a one-time payment of $1,850. Early bird pricing is $1,750 and ends June 3.

When is it?

The 3-Day Retreat is August 8-10 (Depart on August 11.)

Where is it?

The event is held at my studio and garden in West Chester, PA. The retreat DOES NOT include lodging. A guide to the area will be sent to you via email.

How do I know if this is right for me?

This retreat is open to anyone and everyone who has a love of nature and art or who wants to get more practice in botanical art forms. There are no requierments for purchasing a ticket and we hope if you feel this is right for you that you will join us!

I have some dietary restrictions, will they be accommodated? 

YES! Cara and Sarah are well-versed in dietary accommodations. Fear not, we will send a survey out a few weeks prior to the event where you can fill in your preferences. 

Is it rain or shine?

It is a rain or shine event! No matter the weather, we'll be hanging out!

Is there a refund policy? 

Unfortunately, the ticket is non-refundable. Think of it like a concert or a ball game. If you cannot make it, you are more than welcome to give your ticket to someone else. 

What are the take-a-ways?

The physical take-a-ways are a box of botanical art goodies (Cara and Sarah love goodie boxes, so it will be awesome!) You will also get to take home all artwork created, all ideas and thoughts, and maybe a few surprises we have up our sleeves. In terms of general take-a-ways, you will likely walk away with some thoughts about your life, inspiration, friendship, connection, and so much more, simply by being in the room with other creatives. 


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