PENINSULA LIFE • OUR HERITAGE
The land at Petallica Flower Farm is very much alive. New growth is everywhere; from the blossoming Peony bushes and rows of Sweet Williams to polytunnels overflowing with sprouting seedlings and fresh buds, tentatively uncurling their petals. The wooden porch of a shipping container is littered with wilting stems as Lizzie prepares and arranges an armful of blooms into buckets ready to be added to the honesty hut in the carpark.
It’s a pollinator's dream, this flower haven. Being surrounded on the daily by a plethora of scents and various shades of loveliness sounds like the most idyllic job, especially when you’re based on the edge of the Gower Peninsula, but it’s not as carefree as it sounds. The countless rows of blossoms is a testament to hours of graft and hard work by many hands.
Founder of Petallica Flower Farm, Lizzie, shares the site at Summit Good with various other small businesses, a collection of vegetable patches and a noisy brood of chickens. We met up with her on a sunny morning in Spring to find out why spaces like this are best shared.
“So here at Petallica we grow fresh cut flowers. These are either sold wholesale to florists, or I dry them or they’re put into the honesty hut. We also provide a lot of DIY buckets for weddings, celebrations and events and run a bunch of Pick Your Own days and community workshops.
We grow everything here at Petallica using natural growing methods, so no nasty fertilisers or pesticides. We’re not certified organic, just because it’s a really lengthy and expensive process, but we do produce organic flowers, just without the certification.
A large part of the business is the community side by helping to provide access to green spaces. So we run a Women’s Shed every Friday 10-12pm where we all garden together. This looks different every week and takes into account everyone's abilities, but we often do sewing, planting and weeding. We’ll always have a cup of coffee and some cake and a nice chat. It’s such a good social thing and an opportunity to make new friends and meet new people. On Wednesdays we also have volunteer days which are open to anyone.
Petallica has been running for just over three years now. I originally trained on another farm on Gower when I was 23, which is how I got into growing. That was just veg and I branched out to flowers as a hobby during lockdown then got the opportunity to take on this site in Dunvant.
Why flowers? There wasn’t really a plan, it just happened. I loved growing and I love working outside but I just got hooked on flowers. There are so many different varieties you can grow that are great for cutting. It is a constant challenge and incredibly hard work but so rewarding. I also like to be busy and working on the land gives me a purpose as well.
Overall I think roses are my favourite as there are so many amazing scents! You can walk down a bed and they all smell different; one can smell like lemon, another chocolatey, another like strawberries or vanilla. They’re also good for drying, they make great confetti and they’re just beautiful. Especially the David Austen ones, I have three beds of them at home and in the summer the smell is incredible.
The Gower is just beautiful and I love being out here surrounded by nature. Previously the land had been neglected before we took it on and it’s amazing to watch it come back to life over the last few years. It’s now flourishing and is full of birds, wildlife and so many different insects.
But the main thing for me is the people; we’re so people focused here. Seeing all the new businesses arrive on site, the developments with the shipping containers and the community that has grown here has been amazing. It’s so nice as we now have a support network to share knowledge and tips as we all face very similar challenges trying to build our businesses.
There are such strong communities on Gower and just some amazing people doing amazing things. For such a small space to have so much community stuff going on is really special.”
Originally from the Midlands, Lizzie moved south to study at Swansea University back in 2010. There she joined the hiking club and spent every weekend exploring the Gower walks. Each adventure ended in one of Gower’s many great pubs where Lizzie cultivated a love for fine Gower beer! We asked Lizzie to describe her life on Gower in three words:
Nature. Beauty. Community.
If you’re now dead-keen to check out Petallica and all things organic flower farming, pop down to the site for one of her volunteer days or join in with Women’s Shed. There is always lots going on at Summit Good and plenty of other amazing businesses to check out - if you haven’t visited the site, we highly recommend you do! And pick up a bunch of fresh blooms from the honesty hut.