Whidbey Flower Workshop 2018: a recap

Students and Instructors of the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2018

The 2018 Whidbey Flower Workshop crew! My heart warms at the sight of all these good folks. From left to right:
Back row: Gina Thresher, From the Ground Up; Debra Prinzing, Slow Flowers; Carly Jenkins, Killing Frost Farm; Marje Cristol, Linnaea Farm Design; Annika McIntosh, Hazel Designs; Joseph Massie; Jane Hudon, Rancho Verde Flowers
Middle: Evelyn Frolking, Artiflora Granville; Cindy Morgan, Nest on Orcas; Becky Feasby, Prarie Girl Flowers; Anne Bradfield, Floressence; Tobey Nelson; Susan Mcleary, Passionflower
Front Row: Margaret Lloyd, Margaret Joan Florals; Vivian Liu, Arbutus Florist; Isabella Thorndike Church, Jacklily Floral; Rebecca Raymond, Rebecca Raymond Floral Design; Rachel Heath, Trill Flora; Bethany Little, Charles Little & Co.

The 2018 Whidbey Flower Workshop was packed with fun and learning about sustainable floristry techniques.  We covered creative writing, pricing for profits, large-scale foam-free installations (3 methods!) and wearable floral art including foam-free floral headdresses and flower tattoos.  We learned and networked and laughed; we ate good food and drank a little wine as well.  We soaked up some beautiful Pacific NW springtime weather.  Everyone came away with an almost-exploding head full of ideas & inspiration, a well-stocked skills toolbox, and a new set of friends.  A worthy investment, I think!

Sit back and imagine you were there with us (or bask in the fond memories if you were!).  Enjoy this look into the experience.

Day 1

Following check in and self-led farm tours, we gathered for desserts and our kick off session.  Debra Prinzing, SlowFlowers founder & leader of the locally-grown flower movement, officially opened the workshop with a session on “how to tell your flower story”.  She led us through a series of creative writing exercises designed to enliven our brand copy.  Not only did students get in touch with our own flowers story, we acquired a lot of fresh new ways to talk about it.  We shared with each other, and got to know each other a bit.  Flexing a different creative muscle has a side benefit effect of awakening creativity in a different way.  All in all, this session did a great job of setting the stage for the rest of the workshop to come.

Whidbey Flower Workshop instructor Debra Prinzing teaches writing your floral story
Workshop producer Tobey Nelson working on floral stories with student from Jacklily Floral

Isabella & Tobey partnered up for a creative writing exercise.

Day 2

We jumped right in to the deep end of the sustainable floristry techniques pool with Joseph Massie, who came all the way from England!  He warmed us up with his charm and got us gigging.  Then he led us through 2 large-scale foam-free installations and a 3rd concept that provides an impactful yet cost effective option.

The mission of the Whidbey Flower Workshop is to educate florists about sustainable floristry, and eco-friendly methods to replace  conventional floral design methods.  Each year we focus on educating ways that large-scale floral installations and floral backdrops can be made foam-free.  We use only locally-grown and American-grown flowers.  Joe was really generous with his knowledge about how to do things at a huge scale and still without floral foam.

Joseph Massie teaches at the Whidbey Flower Workshop at Fireseed Catering on Whidbey Island

Students creating large scale foam free floral installation at Whidbey Flower Workshop

Collaborating on large scale foam free floral installation at Whidbey Flower Workshop 2018

Above left:  Gina, Annika & Becky tuck flowering branches from contributing sponsor Charles Little & Co into the huge floral welcome piece.

Above right:  Carly & Marje work on the serpentine Statice backdrop, using white California-grown Statice from contributing sponsor Florabundance Inc.

Below, Carly & Joe use Eco-Fresh Bouquet Wraps to bundle stems and then tuck them into the wire mesh support frame.  Big thanks to Eco-Fresh for their continued sponsorship of the workshop!  These wraps are an indispensable tool in my sustainable floristry toolkit!

Joseph Massie teaches large scale foam free floral installations at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Carly Jenkins from Killing Frost Farm shows blooms in Eco Fresh Bouquet Wraps ready for the large scale installation

Using Eco Fresh Bouquet Wraps at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Exciting news! Since the 2018 workshop, Eco-Fresh has been able to procure new PLA (plant-based, vs petroleum-based plastic) bags to replace these, which we recyclable but not biodegradable.

We escaped to the garden for lunch and a talk on pricing structure. The April day was just too gorgeous to spend it all inside!

Large-scale foam-free floral installations at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

The reason I like this photo is that it shows the scale of what we created, and all 3 of the finished installations.

Rose petal wedding ceremony backdrop by Whidbey Flower Workshop

Above, dried Rose petals from our contributing sponsor Flyboy Naturals Eco-friendly Petals are used to create an affordable yet impactful backdrop for a wedding ceremony or an event photo station.  One big benefit of this feature is that it can be made well in advance of the event.  If packed with care at strike time it could even be used for future events, making it even more profitable!

Suspended foam-free floral installation at Fireseed Catering

Above, our Suspended Serpentine Statice backdrop.  She may not look like much all alone in this picture, but wait til you see her all dressed up and ready for dinner.  As people were making her, there were jokes that they were creating a Slug.  I mean, we are in the Pacific Northwest, after all!  But she’s the prettiest slug you ever did see!  Thanks to Florabundance for rounding up all this white Statice – it apparently was quite a task!

Day 3

Susan Mcleary teaching floral wearables at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

We got so lucky with the weather!  Day 3 dawned even more lovely than the day before.  Our host venue, Fireseed Catering, is known for its gardens and grounds.  We couldn’t stay inside, and since we were done with the big installations we didn’t have to!  We hauled all all of the tables, buckets & tools outside and worked under the trees.  Our magical flower studio in the trees was the perfect setting for Susan Mcleary of Passionflower to lead us through construction methods for flower tattoos and floral headdresses.

After thorough explanations and inspiring demo, Sue turned us loose to create.  I was so impressed at what everyone made!  (But why was I, really, with such a great group of amazing florists!)

A floral studio in the trees - what a magical and inspirational setting!

Tools of the trade at Whidbey Flower Workshop

Whidbey Flower Workshop student creating a floral headpiece

Whidbey Flower Workshop Instructor Passionflower Sue demonstrates floral tattoos

Sue coaches Annika on her flower tattoo while Isabella looks on and learns from afar.

Cindy from Nest on Orcas getting things just right for the photo crew.

Students working on Floral Wearables at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Evelyn from Artiflora Granville has a great sense of humor! Here she is creating her floral beard!!

Marje looking for a way to attach her spectacular creation to model Jenny's head (usually we rely on the anchoring assistance of hair - but...!!)

Working on floral wearables at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Isabella from Jacklily Floral is deep in the zone

Making a floral headpiece at the Whidbey Flower Workshop

Rebecca from Rebecca Raymond Floral is known for her all-in creations. Looks like she's making some more wire curls to add to her piece.

Keep scrolling to see the amazing finished pieces from each designer.  Some really incredible foam-free wearable flower art got made at this workshop!  But first, I wanted to show you the rest of day 3…

The Grand Finale

Make a statement at your event! Greet your guests with a large-scale foam-free floral installation at the bar

One of the best ways to make a big impression on your guests at an event is to greet them with a statement piece.  We turned our beautiful monster display into a bar!  It was the first thing guests saw when they entered.  I loved standing by it as people came in and gasped!  Especially the VIP guests who hadn’t been there to see it made – they were really impressed!

Doesn't our Serpentine Statice Slug look a little nicer with some table & centerpiece pals?

Art of the Table Botanical Runners Flower Workshop taught by Tobey Nelson

After all the floral wearables, Sue taught a spontaneous session on foam-free floral garlands.  This gorgeous runner is loaded with locally grown Ranunculus, Narcissus and other beauties from Whidbey Island and Washington flower farms.

Big thanks to contributing sponsors Whidbey Event Rentals for the lovely cedar tables & chairs, and to Cort Party Rentals for the linens and dishes.

Lounge by Seattle event rental company Yay Parties at Whidbey Flower Workshop

No party is complete without a lounge!  This stylish sitting area was designed for the workshop by contributing sponsor Yay Parties!  It adds so much to an event to have soft seating and a groovy place to gather and chat besides the dining tables.

Hard work rewarded! Everyone has a seat for a delicious feast under all the blooms.

Thank you for hanging in with this long post!

Now, get your eyes ready for some more feasting.  Enjoy all these fantastic floral creations!

Floral Cuffs from Whidbey Flower Workshop student

Floral wonderwoman cuffs by Becky Feasby of Praire Girl Flowers

Floral necklace by Debra Prinzing

y Whidbey Flower workshop teacher Susan Mcleary

Floral tattoos by Whidbey Flower workshop teacher Susan Mcleary

If this doesn’t make you smile, well then I just don’t know about you.  Student, farmer, helper extraordinaire turned model Carly Jenkins from Killing Frost Farm got special privelages since she totally busted her bootie for me!  She was drooling over this gorgeous Wai Ching Studio gown (handmade in Seattle, are you dying over it?  You gotta feel it, oh yum).  I figured she deserved to put it on, after all her hard work.  It fit like it was made for her.  So here she is wearing it, and Passionflower Sue’s gorgeous creations.  I know this would probably have been a life highlight for me, and I’m sure it was for Carly too.  Look at the the happy dance and ecstatic face!  (But then she went all serious model face, like a true pro)

A floral beard!

Floral headdress and bracelet

Above left: a floral beard by Evelyn Frolking of Artiflora Granville.  Gown by WaiChing Studio

Above right: a floral headpiece by Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co.  Gown by WaiChing Studio.

Floral Art by Workshop Student Gina Thresher

Flower Sandals at Whidbey Flower Workshop

Floral accessories by (left)  Gina Thresher of From The Ground Up (gown by Wai Ching Studio) and by (right)  Margaret Lloyd of Margaret Joan Flowers (gown by MeaMarie Bridal Atelier)

Flower tattoo by Whidbey Flower Workshop student Hazel Designs gown by MeaMarie Bridal

Foam free floral headdress by Whidbey Flower Workshop student gown by WaiChing Studio

Above left: flower tattoo by Annika McIntosh, Hazel Designs Floral.  Gown by MeaMarie Bridal Atelier

Above right:  Floral headdress by Vivian Lee, Arbutus Florist.  Gown by Wai Ching Studio

Sustainable floristry headpiece by Whidbey Workshop student Jacklily Floral. Gown by MeaMarie Bridal Atelier

Foam-free floral headpiece by Whidbey Flower workshop student Linnaea Farm Design. Gown by MeaMarie Bridal Atelier.

Above, 2 very different foam-free floral headpieces by Jacklily Floral (left) and Linnaea Farm Design (right).  I love how unique each student’s take on flowers can be!


Farmer Carly of Killing Frost Farms rocks her own dried flower headpiece, that is so perfectly coordinated with the Wai Ching Studio gown she was crazy about!

Foam-free floral wearable at Whidbey Flower Workshop by Cindy Morgan, gown by MeaMarie Bridal Atelier

Foam-free floral headpiece by Whidbey Flower Workshop student Rebecca Raymond, gown by Wai Ching Studio

Complimentary works.  Two foam-free floral headdresses.  By Cindy Morgan, Nest on Orcas (left, in a MeaMarie Bridal Atelier gown) and by Rebecca Raymond, Rebecca Raymond Floral (right, in a Wai Ching Studio gown).

Sweet floral headpiece by Whidbey Workshop Student Jane Hudon. Gown by MeaMarie Bridal

Floral belt by Whidbey Flower Workshop student Jane Hudon, gown by MeaMarie Bridal Atelier

Above, two pieces by Jane Hudon, Rancho Verde Flowers (right, in a Wai Ching Studio gown).  I love the gentle touch her pieces employ.  It just goes to show you how different floral artists are!

Foam-free floral headpiece by Tobey Nelson, producer of Whidbey Flower Workshop

And finally, my piece!  It is a wonder that I am able to make anything at all at these workshops.  It takes an amazing amount of behind-the-scenes and in-the-wings work to pull off a floral design retreat workshop like this.  But I love doing it – it feeds my soul!  It is very important to me to spread the word about Sustainable Floristry and to encourage education and artistry among my peers.

For now, farewell.  Stay tuned to see what the next Whidbey Flower Workshop brings!!

I would like to thank…

(I mean, do you feel like you are at the Emmy’s with all this talent, or what??!!)

Gratitude to many who helped this event happen:

Heather Saunders Photography for the images

Alayna Erhart Studio for the video

Sue, Joe & Debra for teaching

Fireseed Catering for putting up with our mess, and keeping us so well fed

The Quintessa for lodging us all and hosting a great slumber party session!

Flying Bear Farm & Sunshine Farm for sharing your farms with the students

Makeup by Anne Timss

Models Olivia Jackson, Jenny, Saige Roberts & Katie Rich

Gowns by Wai Ching Studio and MeaMarie Bridal Atelier (including Anny Lin Bridal and Rachelle’s Bridal Blog)

Floret for the goodie bag seeds

EcoFresh Bouquet Wraps for your product and for your leadership in the Sustainable Floristry industry

Flyboy Naturals Eco-friendly petals for goodie bags & for the installation petals

Yay Parties, Whidbey Event Rentals and Cort Party Rents for all the furnishings

and to all the great farmers, without whom we positively cannot create beauty!

Florabundance Inc

Charles Little & Co

Le Mera Gardens

Janet Foss Flowers

Seattle Wholesale Growers Market farmers including

Jello Mold Farm

Ojeda Farm

Choice Bulbs

Crowley House

Every Day Flowers

Green Valley Flower Growers

Eufloria Flowers

Peterkort Roses


Dang!  You made it THIS far??  Well you must be my kind of person!!  Please, say something below!  Let me know you are out there.  What are your thoughts on floral artistry, working foam free, workshops – anything!  I’d love to know more about you and your work and your challenges!  Please comment below.

4 thoughts on “Whidbey Flower Workshop 2018: a recap

    1. Hi Rainy! I’d love to bring this idea, style & love to So. Cal – LMK if you want to host a workshop down there!!!! 🙂

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