Gretchen O’Neil’s love affair with flowers began as a child, enamored by the confetti-colored tulips that sprawled across her grandfather’s yard. Flower growing became more than just a family pastime for O’Neil in 2002, when she started working on a small farm in the mountains of Vermont. After moving to Austin in 2003, it took the native New Englander about five years to acclimate to the sweltering heat before she could even begin to consider growing cut flowers in the Central Texas climate.
You see, many of the flowers O’Neil remembers from her youth simply won’t grow here. She gradually embraced a new genre of gardening that included sun-worshipping plants like agave, and concepts such as “xeriscaping.” Eventually, she discovered that–with enough planning–her fantasy of growing an abundance of blooms could be actualized.
Over the past eight years, Petals, Ink. has expanded from a one-woman operation to employ a handful of hard-working, talented women, and has established a name for itself in the wedding industry as a grower and provider of sustainably grown, unique flower varieties.
O’Neil’s Texas flower career blossomed on a tiny residential lot in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood that she called “The Petal Patch.” Now she has seven acres and is preparing to open Austin’s first 100 percent locally-grown mobile flower truck.