Sadly, Corona virus put an end to the Hobart Group holding its 4 April Plants Sale.
The ramifications were that the plants in 75mm pots that the Group likes to sell had started to get pot bound and have required potting on into large pots. Fortunately, the Group had kept a large quantity of 140mm pots and had been given plenty of 125mm pots. The limitation on travel during the COVID-19 lock down was solved after a Hobart politician asked constituents if she could
help them. The Nursery Convenor asked if it would allowable to travel to the Nursery to manage the plants. The Tasmanian Government advised that travel was permissible for volunteers to do maintenance. The Group’s keen propagators then met in pairs or trios, mainly on each Saturday afternoon to pot on the plants, prune them to encourage bushy growth, rearrange the plants on the benches and keep the weeds under control. Now, at the end of May, the potting on has nearly been completed and the plants are looking very good, thanks to the wonderful effort of those dedicated Group Members.
So, the Group have prepared new species and old favourites for the next Plants Sale that they hope will be allowed on Saturday 17 October 2020 from 9.00am to 1.00pm under the Library verandah, Hutchins Street side of the Kingston Primary School. If required, they will be prepared to extended hours due to the large number of plants that will be for sale and the possibility that social distancing may still be required. Additional tables will be set out to cope with the extra plants and allow lots of space for customers. The Group looks forward to providing customers with its beautiful plants in October.
The cancellation of the Autumn Sale left the Northern Group with more than 1500 plants. At first, they thought of organising an on-line sale, and a list of plants for sale was compiled, accordingly. As social distancing regulations tightened it was realised this also was impossible. Then, as part of its social distancing precautions, West Tamar Council stopped access to the Stables (their potting shed) and were possibly considering locking down the whole community garden area. The Group indicated to them that would be a big problem for their nursery and, thankfully, nothing more happened. In the light of that, they instigated their own regulation that no more than one member should be at the nursery at any one time. That’s how they have operated for April and half of May.
So, what happened to their plants? The Propagation Convenor drew up a
large task list – 70 tasks in total – and about seven of the propagation team who didn’t mind being there alone worked through the tasks. The work proceeded well, and by mid-May they were more than half way through the work, mainly weeding and fertilising, to get the plants through winter, and a fair bit of root-cutting, pruning, repotting and soil replenishment. However, before any of the task work was done, the first priority was to pot-on the many cuttings that had struck. The previous and current Convenors potted up about 12 trays of plants. There are not many cuttings left in the shade-house but happily there’s quite a bit of plant propagation being undertaken in members’ homes. Well done!
When restrictions ease, the Group will be able to have maybe 2 or 3 members work together in the outside area. This may suit many of their new Members who have contributed to and enjoyed their propagation sessions so much over the past couple of years.
The nursery now has a new rack, the 5th, in the outside area. It’s been made for them by the East Tamar Men’s Shed. The canopy is yet to be installed, but all the materials are there ready to complete it, when the corona lock-down eases. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Convenor hopes this brings everyone up-to-date. Several Members have said how much they are missing propagation. That’s nice to know because so do she. Plants make good companions but don’t compensate for not seeing everyone’s eager faces once a month at propagation.
The two photos were taken at the nursery in early May by Janet Hallam. One shows the Group’s plants looking good and the other is of some normally spring-flowering Prostanthera rotundifolia plants bursting into flower in May! They were expertly re-potted by a Member last November after being left over from the Group’s Spring Sale in October.
North West Group
North West Group propagation team have continued to work at their nursery in the Tasmanian arboretum in groups of 2 throughout the lockdown period. The Arboretum has been open and indeed appeared to be more popular for walking and recreation than usual. Possibly people have been desperate to have somewhere to go to. Similarly, Members have been keen to do something: maintenance and propagation. 8 members turned out for the first
propagation for May after permissible number was extended to 10.
The Group found that the 2 person groups, they almost had a queue for them, had worked so diligently that there actually was not great deal to do! Nevertheless members enjoyed being able to be together again. As they had a large quantity of plants in one litre pots ready to sell and were anxious for them to find a home, they decided to offer them to their local members at 50% discount. This was quite popular. They have also sold some to friends and neighbours.
Buyers were able to come to the nursery to buy plants at pre-arranged times, one person at a time. The Convenor also has plants at her home for overwintering because many are lost due to the heavy frosts at the Arboretum. After the strictest lockdown, some people could also get plants that she had at their home. Social distancing has not been difficult to maintain at the Arboretum as the Members work outside with plenty of space, nor in the Convenor’s large home garden. In total the Group have sold $510 worth of plants, nearly all of the size they normally sell at $5. They have lost count of the total number of plants sold as various members have been involved. At least half have been at discounted price.
There are still plants left, but space has been liberated for ongoing production. In recent years the Group have had a smaller spring sale in connection with the Port Sorell Spring Fair in mid-October. It is not yet certain if the fair will go ahead this year. The Group may need to have a spring sale at the Arboretum this year, depending on how the plants cope through the winter and how much suitable stock they have.