Oak Bay resident Christin Geall with her new book, Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style, a collection of Geall’s floral photography that accompanies Geall’s 42,000-word journey of art history and floral arrangement. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Noted Oak Bay floral arranger debuts first book

Instagram star Christin Geall combines photography, floral arrangements

The life of an author might seem like one that could survive the shutdown impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The truth is it’s anything but.

Oak Bay’s Christin Geall has carved herself a unique market, her niche blending her own high-end photography with the high-art of floral styling.

Her new book, Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style, presents a next-level presentation of flowers with 42,000 carefully written words that weaves practical how-to advice with Geall’s expertise in storytelling.

It’s for experts and beginners alike. Geall’s sharp imagery has grown her an international following on Instagram of 98,400, and growing.

“It’s about different ways of seeing,” says Geall, sitting at a weathered, wood table in her robust south Oak Bay garden. “I go through different philosophies. I’m really happy with how the book turned out, I wish I could be out there touring it.”

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One of the most compelling parts of teaching floral design for me is the diversity of people drawn to it. You wouldn’t think that a microbiologist might brush shoulders with a painter, or that a gardener would find themselves alongside an engineer, or a photographer would be faced with the same challenges as a writer. How do we make the flowers look their best in a vase? The irony (or ecstasy) of my book’s subtitle, The Elements of Floral Style, is that I once taught an undergraduate course titled singularly and just as ominously, ‘Elements of Style’. This was in a creative writing department. I was recently out of grad school, and I suspect no senior professor wanted to take it on. The course mixed poets with journalists— not an easy crowd, but everyone had the same materials to work with, at least: words. Tonight it was flowers. . This evening marked the beginning (in my mind) of my book tour and I want to say a heartfelt thanks to @thelondonplaneflowershop in Seattle and the diversity of guests who shared snippets of their relationships with plants tonight. I could have stayed hours. Grateful I have big season of teaching/watching/and learning from all of you ahead. (And yes, I bought the yellow sweater today to match the floral palette…more shameless hooraying in stories). #flowersmakemesmile #floralclass #thelondonplane #manythanks

A post shared by Christin Geall (@cultivatedbychristin) on

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For seven years Geall taught creative non-fiction writing and environmental writing at the University of Victoria. She’s a former Black Press Media columnist, and is proud of the writing in Cultivated, which plays off the sharp colours of her photos.

Academically, Geall is grounded in fine arts and her experience writing gave her the ability to articulate the design, she said.

“I had about 20,000 words written when I presented [the pitch] to the publisher,” Geall said. “I drew from excerpts in my column, from pieces on Instagram, and I expanded them… writing another 22,000 words.”

Oak Bay resident Christin Geall published Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style, this spring, her first book. Geall’s modern blend of photography and floral arranging is an international hit. Before the COVID-19 pandemic Geall was traveling regularly to run workshops and had to cancel a cross-Atlantic book tour for Cultivated.

Before the book came out Geall was already flying every few weeks to offer one-day and weekend-long workshops at private places or at institutions such as the New York Botanical Garden. That’s where she was on March 16, when Justin Trudeau asked all Canadians to come home.

It spelled the end of her international book speaking tour and teaching tour which would have taken her through Eastern U.S.A., various stops in England and Paris.

Stuck behind the Tweed Curtain, Geall started a new project this spring to make up for the income lost on the tour.

It’s another first, as she is selling large prints of her floral arrangement photographs is a series called ‘Sanctum.’

The series uses boxes to frame floral arrangements, which evokes the shadowy dark contrast that makes the flowers pop in so many of Geall’s photos (but not all). Geall built a new website for it and sales are going well.

READ ALSO: Harvesting hellebores, with Christin Geall

“Basically I was on a plane every few weeks to make my living,” Geall said. “I enjoy the Sanctum series. It’s a new … challenge.”

One thing Geall didn’t expect was when her publisher offered to purchase the rights to a few of the photos in the book so they could use them to make jigsaw puzzles.

“Puzzle sales are up during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Geall said. “These are the times.”

Cultivated: The Elements of Floral Style, is available at local bookstores Ivy’s, Demitasse, Bolen Books, Munro’s Books, as well as online and Chapters/Indigo.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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