How I Became A Rose Farmer
Gardening has been part of me ever since I can remember. Having an Italian mother, one lives off what you grow and only the best produce can be used for the fine fare that is produced for every meal. Every meal is celebrated and nothing is ever prepared in a hurry. Tender love and care and a whole dollop of passion are put into every meal. Food feeds the soul, therefore take extra special care what you eat – rather grow your own.
Some of my fondest memories of gardening were with my Gran in her garden. A big farm garden, covering a few hectares with flowing lawns highlighted by flamboyant trees with their bright orange flowers in summer that went hand in hand with the Christmas Beetle singing away on many a hot, humid summer night. We grew up without fences; hedges of bougainvillea were planted to keep the antelope out of the garden. In winter when the grazing was lean, they fed off these hedges, we both benefitted. I remember Gran in her big grass hat, for protection against the hot Zululand sun, bent over working the soil with her bare hands. Her garden was her oasis.
“Gramps”, not much of a gardener, had smuggled poppy seeds back from the Second World War, I grew up knowing they were his special flowers, with so much more meaning and stirred up emotions that we could not ever imagine. In spring around his birthday he had his spot in the garden that was filled with them. That’s where my love for gardening started…picking buckets full of daises, zinnias and calendulas. What I remember the most about going off to school with buckets full for my teacher; was the look on her face when I walked into the classroom and how flowers seemed to lift the spirit of everyone for the rest of the week.
I come from farming stock; my great grandmother fondly known as “Dala” (Madala is an old person in Zulu) was the pioneer of our farms in Hluhluwe, Zululand. When she lost her husband to a heart attack at a very young age, she took over the reins and farmed. My grandmother followed in her footsteps and my father thereafter. I spent a wonderful 12 years running our family owned game lodge and farm – Falaza Game Park and Spa. Gosh that made me tick, the excitement of building an establishment from scratch, learning a new industry, always striving to improve. I loved it. I was flying high when an eligible bachelor came along, swept me off my feet, married me and moved me and my two staffies (Staffordshire terrier) out of the bush.
Lance is in Earthmoving and I have carried the portfolio of “minister of finance” for the last 13 years while working alongside him building LT Earth Movers. We’ve been blessed with two children, Taylor 9 and Cullum 6, and as parenthood does – it’s kept us on our toes and continues to do. Satisfied with where our businesses were at, and looking for another challenge, in the autumn of 2017, Lance and I decided we needed to tick something off our bucket lists. For him it was cattle, a Brahman Stud is the dream he is fulfilling and for me it was my dream of farming, but farming something pretty and feminine. My large farm garden already had 400 rose bushes which was the highlight of my garden and gave me the most joy. Buying a “few” more was the most logical step…therefore the birth of “Farmgirl Flowers”. Our 13 hectares (just outside Wartburg, KZN) is a hive of activity with cattle, horses, thousands of roses, earthmoving and everyday life.
I now have the privilege to work with magnificence every day. The joys of handing over a freshly picked bunch of flowers, the delight and watching them bury their heads to smell our old world scented roses - priceless! In their eyes one can see the smells evoking long last memories.
Flowers do just make you feel good…feel great! I think I may have adopted Monet’s quote about flowers as my mantra
“I must have flowers, always and always”