Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Devoted to Sustainable Floristry, created with love.

Strap on your toolbelts, y’all – and pack your pencils too!  The Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019 will be loaded with valuable information!  Like always, we will focus on sustainable floristry techniques & mechanics.  We’ll also take a deep dive into business stuff!  I’m SUPER excited to announce that Emily Ellen from Lola Creative will join us each day for some nitty-gritty thinking about business strategies for prosperity and financial sustainability.  Florist producer Tobey Nelson (that’s me!) will lead us through foam-free centerpieces both low & elevated as well as installations both free-standing and hanging.  Photographer Suzanne Rothmeyer will give us tips on photographing our work.  Each student will receive images of the work to use in their portfolios.

“I would recommend this workshop to anyone wishing to take their floral styling skills to the next level! The techniques that I learned there instantly translated into larger wedding orders, and brought new life into my work. It was fun and inspiring!” – Jane, Rancho Verde Flowers 

Registration is open!  And seats are selling quickly.  Read on for pricing info.

The mission of the Whidbey Flower Workshop

What is the Whidbey Flower Workshop?  It is a retreat for professional florists.  The mission is to promote sustainable floristry and to empower creativity and success for floral entrepreneurs.  The topics, structure, teachers and venue change from year to year.  The overarching goal is have fun while learning a ton and really expanding ourselves.  I work hard to create a space in which students (you!) can be inspired, gain trust in their creativity, learn new skills, improve their portfolio, learn a host of foam-free mechanics and techniques, play with the Pacific Northwest’s most gorgeous spring blooms, enjoy lovingly crafted meals, and make new friends! (phew!  we do so much!)  I know it can be difficult to prioritize investment in education and enrichment, but I believe strongly in the importance of it.  So every year, I work extra hard to make each of your hard earned pennies matter.  Every moment we are together is packed with loads of info and goodness.

Topics for 2019

To help me plan the agenda for 2019, I asked for florists to complete a survey about what they wanted to see in a floral workshop.  The top 4 topics of interest were business issues, foam free centerpieces & installations, and photography.  So – guess what we are covering this year?  I am all about making my people happy.  Ask, and you shall receive!

Business Sustainability

Each day, we will have a session with Emily.  She will lead us to design our own business strategy for prosperity based on her revealing approach and tools you will begin implementing immediately.  By the end of our three days together, you will identify your secret sauce, clarify your unique path, cut out distractions, pinpoint your goals, demystify pricing, and have a plan to go out there and get more work.  She will help super-fuel the already noble values that you and your business stand for by building more PROFIT and PROSPERITY into your business.

Centerpieces & Installations

The focus of the mechanics instruction this year will be about centerpieces and installations, and will be led by me, Tobey.  We will cover a range of foam-free mechanics, structures and tricks.  We will employ them to create low and elevated centerpieces, and installations both free-standing and suspended.  We will build a variety of pieces to give a range of options and inspiration.  My aim is to load up your toolbox with skills so you feel empowered and able to create anything you can dream of!

As a layer to that, we will also discuss photography and styling.  All pieces will be styled and photographed for use in your portfolio.

Photography tips & tricks

Suzanne will share her secrets & tips to take better photographs of our work.  We will learn strategies for making our floral pieces camera-ready.  And she’ll document everything so we have lots of great stuff for our portfolios.


Foam free hanging installations will be taught at the whidbey flower workshop 2019

We created this showstopper at last year's workshop!

Join the fun

Registration is open!   Workshop dates are April 7 – 9.  The cost is $1850 (plus sales tax of 8.7%).   This will be an intimate group, a max of 16 students, and seats are filling.  Get yours, quickly!  Tickets are non-refundable, but they are transferable (it is the responsibility of the ticket holder to handle all transfer arrangements).  Full payment at the time of registration is requested, but contact me if you need to make payment arrangements.

(Sorry for such an ugly payment button.)

I’ve worked really hard to pack value into every minute!  Tuition includes:

  • Admission to the workshop (see the itinerary below)
  • Dinner during the welcome session on Sunday night (no host bar available)
  • Snacks & lunches on Monday and Tuesday
  • Farewell feast on Tuesday night, hosted by Debra Prinzing
  • All materials
  • Professional photos for your own portfolio use

Not Included (but I am more than happy to help you arrange this)

  • Lodging
  • Transportation
  • Personal Tools – you can ship them to me

Contact me if you have any questions!

What students are saying:

“Tobey created a workshop that exceeded it’s return over and beyond what I expected. She saw to all details, cared about our comfort and created a warm enriching environment perfect for learning as much as possible in a short amount of time. The venue she chose, the teacher and the ancillary staff were all exceptional. She is also hilarious, charming and fun to be around.” -Freidel, Mimulo

“Attending this workshop was worth every penny and minute spent! I walked away with way more than I could have imagined I could gain in just a couple of days in both knowledge and new fellow passionate flowers friends! So happy I made the investment in my future this way!” – Laura W.


Sunday April 7:  
  • 1 – 3: Self guided open flower farm tour at Sonshine Farm in Langley
  • 2 – 4:  Optional personal wearables session
  • Break to explore Langley, check in, etc.

Workshop kickoff! 5:00 – 9 pm

  • 5 – 6:  Mingle & munch – buffet dinner and no-host bar
  • 6 – 8:30:  Floral Biz Presentation with Emily of Lola Creative
Monday April 8
  • Breakfast on your own
  • 8:30 – 10:30:  Flower Biz with Emily
  • Snack break!
  • 10:45 – 11:15: Photography Tips by Suzanne
  • 11:15 – 12:30: Low foam-free centerpieces
  • 12:30 – 1:15:  Lunch
  • 1:15 – 3:  Elevated foam-free centerpieces
  • 3:30 – 4: Table Styling
  • 4:00 – 5:  Wrap up and decompress
  • Optional group dinner

Tuesday April 9

  • Breakfast on your own
  • 8:30 – 10:30:  Flower Biz with Emily
  • Snack break!
  • 10:45 – 12:30: Mechanics of making large scale, foam-free installations
  • 12:30 – 1:15:  Lunch
  • 1:15 – 3:30:  Finish/Flower the installations
  • 3:30 -5:  Tidy up, Share & Decompress
  • 6:30 – 9: Farewell feast – “Flower Makers” dinner with Debra Prinzing!
Wednesday, April 10:
  • Not an official workshop day – but, bonus idea!  Visit the very special Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.  This is not included in the workshop, but if anyone needs help figuring out how to get there, I’m happy to assist!  The market is a ferry ride and then a 30 mile drive south from Whidbey, but it is worth the trip.  It would be good looped in to a trip back to the airport or for a little Seattle exploration time.

Our Instructors

Tobey Nelson will teach sustainable floristry at the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Tobey Nelson

This silly, sarcastic optomistic plant freak is known for adopting random accents, for being direct, and maybe just a little bit for a potty mouth (fair warning!).  She is powerless in the face of good coffee, dark chocolate, and red wine.  She is a passionate evangelist of the Sustainable Florist movement and has been committed to foam-free floristry and locally grown flowers from the get-go.

Tobey has a BS in Horticulture from Michigan State University and has studied with Tomas deBruyne, Gregor Lersch, Hitomi Gilliam, Francoise Weeks, Susan Mcleary, Amy Osaba, and Sarah Winward –  among others!

Be warned – with Tobey at the helm there may be spontaneous bouts of dorkiness and spasticness with a possible touch of raunchy – but she will bend over backwards to make sure that no question is left unanswered!


Emily Ellen

Emily has a hunch that floral peeps are the kindest, most observant, empathetic, and generous people in the world. Just the sort of people that should make oodles of money so they can slather the world with goodness and beauty.

Through her well-acclaimed online business course, Emily leads floral folk and creatives who previously poked at their business finances from afar to full-on embrace the art and science of making money (and not just an awkward one-armed sort of embrace, but the all-body-with-messy-kissing kind of embrace).

Emily is founder of Curious Lola, an online resource for floral and event designer training, and Lola Creative in Edmonds Washington, an artful and sustainable event design company that began as a floral studio.

Emily Ellen will teach sustainable business practices at the Whidbey Flower Workshop


Photographer Artist Suzanne Rothmeyer will teach photography and styling tips at the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Suzanne Rothmeyer

This spunky soul is always up for a cool project.  She’s a consistently crappy bowler, a lover of good cocktails with good company, and she thrives on collaborate creative efforts that either tell a story or prompt a conversation.  She leads a dual work life – portrait, wedding and commercial work happens alongside crazy conceptual work that speaks to her soul (and her femme socio-political justice flame).

Suzanne will join us to help tell our story, document our work, and lead us in a mini-session about how to take better pictures of our work.

Debra Prinzing

Debra Prinzing is my hero, and the unifying force behind the SlowFlowers movement.  She will be the host for our “Flower Makers’ Dinner” on Tuesday night.  SO many of us in this profession wouldn’t be where we are without the amazing woman.  I am thrilled that she will join us.

Debra Prinzing will teach brand writing at Whidbey Island FLower Workshop

Location & Host

The workshop will be hosted at The Roaming Radish just outside of the quaint seaside town of Langley.  They are known for working closely with local farmers to create meals full of heart and art.  We will enjoy delicious snacks and lunches lovingly crafted from local ingredients.  The farewell feast dinner will be a night to remember.

Throughout the workshop hostess/event producer Tobey Nelson will make sure you are comfortable and well provided for.  Tobey wants you to feel taken care of so you can dig deep into your creativity, analyze and dream about your business, and get the most out of this amazing opportunity.

Our Sponsors

EcoFresh Bouquet Wraps are sponsors of the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Eco-Fresh Bouquet Wraps

We gratefully welcome EcoFresh Bouquet Wraps as our sponsor for year 3 of the Whidbey Flower Workshop.  I prize this tool when creating floral installations – it is one of the resources that makes foam-free designing easier.

Eco Fresh Bouquet Floral Hydration Stem Sponge-Wrap® System is the first eco-friendly mobile water resource that allows flowers to stay fresh and well hydrated with a professional appearance and flawless performance. Perfect for transporting bouquets, cascading designs, weddings, large installations, events, holidays, farmers markets, and pop-up shops too!


Sarah Wagstaff lives and grows flowers in Burlington, Washington with her husband, Keith, and their son, Huck. SUOT stands for “Small Units Of Time” and rhymes with pluot (a plum/apricot hybrid), is a reminder to work at something a little bit every day until, in time, you have created excellence.
Bit by bit, Sarah is growing some phenomenal stuff that she is going to share with us!  Sarah is sponsoring the workshop by donating some beautiful and unique cut flowers and greens.
Sarah says “Some days I feel like my mission in life is to remind people how worthy they are of love.  Their own love.  People forget how cool they really are.”  I think she must be pretty cool if that is her mission!

SUOT farm is a flower farmer sponsor of the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Floral Genius is a sponsor of the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

Floral Genius Flower Frogs

Floral Genius is a sister-owned company that manufactures their products in the USA!  Their handmade pins and frogs allow floral designers to work without foam.   Get to know these girls better by listening to the Slow Flowers podcast with them!  I’m very excited that we will both work with their frogs, and that each student will have one to take home!


GoodLight Natural Candles

GoodLight Natural Candles was founded by “a couple of tree-hugging hippie ski bums” to help create a shift in the candle industry away from polluting, unsustainable parrafin-based candles (parrafin is made from petroleum) to a cleaner and more sustainable, yet still affordable candle.  When you buy their candles you’re supporting the sustainable palm oil movement.  They are contributors to 1% for the Planet; they are partnered with CarbonFund.org to reduce & offset their emissions; they contribute to the Orangutan Land Trust.  This is a company that cares, and one that we are SO proud to partner with!  I use their candles in my business.  Each student of the workshop will take home a sample package of tea lights in their goody bag.  It is my hope that in return, my students will start using GoodLight Natural Candles in their events, helping to make a positive impact on the earth, light by little light.  Big thanks to GoodLight for supporting the workshop, and bigger thanks for being an amazing business!

GoodLight Natural Candles is a sponsor of the Whidbey Flower Workshop 2019

What’s different from last year?

No lodging or transportation is included.

We are at a new venue.

Our focus is on business practices, centerpieces, installations, and photography/styling.

We will not be doing wearables (maybe a special session for boutonnieres, corsages and tattoos – stay tuned) or bridal bouquets.

So even if you came last year… this one will be different than last year!  Contact me if you have any questions!

Want to know more about past workshops?

Visit the 2017 recap post, the 2018 recap post, or search #whidbeyflowerworkshop on Instagram to see what happened organically – it’s pretty magical!

Learn foam-free floral design mechanics for large-scale installations and elevated centerpieces. Come to the Whidbey Flower Workshop! #foamfree #nofloralfoam #floralinstallations #flowerworkshop

Work-trade Scholarships

It takes a whole lot of work to run one of these workshops!  To help control costs and open up opportunities, I have awarded a few work-trade scholarships this year.  In exchange for half-price tuition (so, $925 instead of $1850), you agree to assist with a few jobs.  Each “winner” will be asked to help with set up and clean up, and with keeping things tidy on workshop days, as outlined below.  Bear in mind, I won’t work you to the bone, and there’s often a whole lot to learn during set up and strike as well as in the workshop itself!!

  • Prep & set up, Sunday 10 am – 12pm
  • Mon & Tues: Help keep stems tidy, keep trash and compost organized, help organize for next day (an hour each day?)
  • Weds am strike 9 am- 11 am

These scholarships have already been awarded for 2019.  Head on over to my mailing list to make sure you will be in the know for when the contest is announced next year!