Your Covid-free correspondent has been out and about – virtually, of course – gathering news of the Growing Friends, who like so many of the Friends brigade of volunteers are in enforced recess.
Lockdown has merely shifted the Growing Friends creativity, resilience and project management to new habitats – their iso-home resorts. Home and garden DIY abounds in spades. Reports of veritable bee-hives of activity pepper their missives and include vivid exchanges of scientific advice on the management of a possum in residence in the flue of a wood fired heater. Some possum magic required when icy blasts are forecast.
Now, on to news of Growing Friends raison d’être. Many hundreds of Viola banksii and Geranium solanderi were propagated for local Banks and Solander events to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of Lieutenant James Cook and crew reaching the east coast of Australia in HMS Endeavour on April 29. During the voyage up the east coast, naturalist Joseph Banks and botanist Daniel Solander made collections of Australian plants which were taken to London for classification and scientific study. The commemorative events were scuttled by the virus, so many, many tiny pots were sent for baby sitting, only to find new homes when their caretaker noticed an appreciable increase in walkers airing their offspring on the local paths. Her ‘Free to a good home’ letter box stall had lots of appreciative recipients – who knows, maybe some young enthusiasts to follow in the footsteps of Banks and Solander. Silver linings in a time of coronavirus.
The Growing Friends last hurrah – the very successful autumn sale – just passed the post as Covid 19 hove into full view and our pandemic isolation took hold. What to do with the Growing Friends nursery and its little charges? No worker bees allowed there to tend them. A massive flurry of activity and contingency planning ensued and within a week the nursery was bedded down for the hibernation. Over a thousand plants were distributed to foster carers wide and far for safe keeping, while those remaining are being cosseted by the Cranbourne nursery staff. The Growing Friends planning for the next fabulous post hibernation sale is well in hand and awaits word of pandemic restrictions being modified before any dates can be confirmed – watch this space!