The 2017 Whidbey Flower Workshop – A Recap

tablescape at Whidbey Flower Workshop by Tobey Nelson Events and Design

The place setting for our farewell feast, with a most lovely menu by Grey and Cake, and lovely linens from La Tavola.

The Whidbey Flower Workshop is a creative retreat for professional florists.  It is an opportunity take time out to invest in yourself.  It is a chance to grow your design skills while you follow your own heart,  without having to follow mandates from clients.  Build trust in your creativity, learn new skills, improve your portfolio, and make new friends!  We accomplish all this in a relaxed, fun and pampered environment, around a central theme of “slow” and sustainable.  We reject floral foam and rely heavily on locally grown flowers.  Our meals are cooked with love and attention and lots of local ingredients; the wine we serve is “slow” wine (grown and made on Whidbey Island).  We have views of the Puget Sound, tall trees, grapevines and cows while we work.  All this combines for a pretty magical interlude.  Here’s a peek into this spring’s session.  Join us in April 2018!


Wedding Arbor and Floral Installation for Whidbey Island Weddings

We dined under this gorgeous foam-free installation. It was most magical!

The 2017 workshop welcomed Susan Mcleary, Debra Prinzing, and Kaleb James Willis as instructors.  These three superstars shared loads of invaluable advice, instruction and insight.  Students explored writing exercises designed to help them dig into the essence of their brand.  They learned foam-free mechanics for construction of centerpieces, bridal bouquets and a large scale installation; were inspired with ideas to update their work and build on-trend designs that take inspiration from the season and the materials at hand.  We created fashion-forward wearables.  We learned tips for adding layers of interest and beauty to a tablescape, and how to style our work to get the most out of a photoshoot.  We discussed pricing, marketing, branding, and honing one’s niche.  We all came away with knock-out photos, thanks to the mad skills and patience of Sullivan & Sullivan Photography.  And best of all, friendships were made and networks were connected.


Coaching us on finishing touches, Susan Mcleary, Passionflower Events

Kaleb Norman James Design teaches at Whidbey Flower Workshop

I will admit that when I got the idea for this workshop, I really didn’t have a solid plan – I just wanted to figure out a way to get Passionflower Sue to my turf!  I have been an avid stalker of her incredible work for several years.  Once she said yes (and I finished by whooping and happy dancing), I just let things flow and followed my inspiration.  Like “Man, Kaleb’s work is gorgeous.  And I really want to play with his stuff! How cool would it be to have him come create a madly gorgeous tablescape with the centerpieces we make?”  So I pursued him (and the great props from his inventory along with Cort Event Rentals, La Tavola, and Unique & Chic Rentals).

I wanted to pack as much value in as I could.  I spent the winter struggling with a rebrand, trying to find my voice.  So when I heard that Debra Prinzing teaches a “writing for your brand”, I knew that had to be included!  And of course, great photography, models & HMU, because we all want to rock our portfolios!  And it all would happen with no floral foam!

So yeah, I basically created my own dream workshop and hoped others would like it enough to come.   And, they did!  And they liked it!  Everything started happening and I could not believe, nor have planned, the amazing chemistry between everyone.  It was a magical, “more than the sum of the parts” kind of experience.  Each student was (is!) so great, and talented, and open – I am honored to have been able to spend time working alongside such a great group of people.


Students at work at Whidbey Flower Workshop
The wearables session.
Perfecting the art of bridal bouquets at Whidbey Flower Workshop
Rayne Grace Hoke of KittyWitch Botanicals perfecting her bridal bouquet.
stunning bridal bouquet by Student Unique & Chic at Whidbey Flower Workshop
Evaluating her work, Holly Price of Unique & Chic Event Rentals & Design
Concentrating. Marje Cristol, Linnea Farm

For me, there were SO many highlights (really, the whole thing was a huge highlight of my year!).  To summon one particular part – I loved watching people come to trust their ability to make something more lovely than they’d imagined.  The look in the eyes of the florist when she put her creation into the hands of the model, and seeing the shift from insecure to amazed, “I can’t believe I made that”, was all the reward I needed for the hard work of the workshop production!


Student bridal bouquet by Wild Child Flower Co from Whidbey Flower Workshop
Spring bridal bouquet. Sara Davies, Wild Child Flower Co
Student floral headpiece made at Whidbey Flower Workshop by Darcy MacPherson, Silver Thread Gardens
Beautiful spring floral headpiece by Darcy MacPherson, Silver Thread Gardens.


Amazing creations from the Whidbey Flower Workshop


Thanks and credit to all the students/designers who came –

There would have been no magic without you!  Congratulations on all your amazing work.  Be proud of your talents!

Students and teachers of the Whidbey Flower Workshop

The best group of people a workshop producer could ever have asked for! Thanks to all these great souls who make my 2017 launch a tremendous success.


Amy Brown, Laughing Goat Flower Farm
Bergen Carey, Fire and Blooms
Carly Jenkins, Killing Frost Farm
Chana Hecht/Frankel, Mimulo
Darcy Macpherson, Silver Thread Gardens
Debbie Mittelman, MiViva Designs
Elise Luck, Sweet Luck Farm
Freidel Levin, Mimulo
Holly Price, Unique & Chic Event Rentals
Kirby Rogic, The Flowerhouse
Nancy Nesbit, Rhodesia Flower
Laura Wiltse-Tibbets, West Wind Florals
Laurie Henderson, Fab Floral
Marje Cristol, Linnaea Farm
Rayne Grace Hoke, KittyWitch Botanicals
Sara Davies, Wild Child Flower Co
Sarah Kistner, Stone Meadow Flowers
Sylvia Lukach, Cape Lily



Menu and placecards by Gray and Cake for Whidbey Island Workshop
Gorgeous paperie by Gray & Cake
Honeysilk Ribbon at Whidbey Flower Workshop
Honeysilk Ribbon was a generous sponsor

And ENORMOUS thanks to my workshop sponsors and contributors

I could never have pulled that workshop off without the generosity, help and patience of so many people, all of whom deserve so much more credit than this, so here goes.  Give these businesses your support, as their hearts are totally in the right place!

Comforts of Whidbey Winery

Slow Flowers

Sweet Luck Farm

Flying Bear Farm

Sonshine Farm

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market

Cort Party Rental

La Tavola

Honeysilks Ribbon Co

EcoFresh Bouquet Wraps

Frankie & Maude

Grey & Cake

Serendipity Catering

Unique & Chic Rentals

Salon Bella

Marquis Artistry

Kendra Lyons, model

Susan Yim, model