Category: Blog

Roadkill madness

Have we reached a tipping point I wonder, in a realisation and an awareness – as well as hopefully a collective horror – about the staggering number of wildlife being exterminated on our roads?
It’s not like the issue of roadkill is new. Some of us have been urging drivers to slow down on Tasmania’s roads for years, especially between the hours of dusk and dawn when our mostly nocturnal wildlife is active. There have been multiple letters to editors over the years, from both locals and tourists, appalled at the number of roadkilled bodies lining the roadsides. There have been multiple pleas from wildlife champion Greg Irons from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, begging people to please show caution, and to slow down, especially when driving at night or early in the morning.


It seems that people are finally waking up and finding their voices. Certainly I hope so. Suddenly there seems to be an explosion of community groups forming around the state determined to halt the carnage. Primarily in their own locality, but also more widely. Facebook pages have been established. Tamar Valley Wildlife Roadkill Initiative and Friends of Summerleas Wildlife are just two of them. Posts are being shared. The ‘likes’ are increasing. While the graphic photos being posted can be confronting, (they’re meant to be) they are also having some success in mobilising people to be more aware. And to encourage them how to be involved.


Letters to editors are good, and Council road signs reminding drivers to ‘slow down for wildlife’ are also good, but a relatively new and effective strategy being promoted by a southern Tasmanian group is posters. They have a range of different ones to choose from and they’re popping up on fences and gates across the island. Thanks to a committed team of volunteers and wildlife carers these posters are being ferried around the state. They all have a photograph of a pademelon, a wallaby, a wombat, a masked owl, a Tasmanian devil etc and a simple message that asks drivers to slow down because everyone deserves to arrive home safe and sound at night. And the cost is modest at only $16 each. Order from Friends of Summerleas Wildlife


It’s a fantastic initiative and already there are three along our road. It’s certainly not the only strategy to help protect our vulnerable wildlife, and I cannot say in truth that it’s proved 100 per cent effective yet in my area, but it’s a start and will hopefully prompt more people to be alert to our furred and feathered friends when they’re driving along regional and rural roads, because as the posters remind us: we all deserve to arrive home safely.

Dear Prime Minister Albanese

Just before the opening of the 47th parliament I emailed the following letter to our newly-minted PM. Labor was after all largely elected because they promised much greater action on addressing the climate crisis, even if many of us want and expect more than the 43 per cent cut in emissions by 2030. That’s not enough and is also why we want and expect the PM to collaborate with the Greens and the teal independents to achieve a more realistic target and time-frame. For the sake of the planet – and our country – I hope he does.

“It’s true you’ve not wasted time since winning the May 21st election, and you’re to be congratulated on mending some fences with our international neighbours, but your approach to the climate change issue leaves a great deal to be desired.


Many of us were heartened and encouraged by your comments during the election campaign indicating your willingness to work collaboratively across the political spectrum to end the so-called ‘climate wars’.
So your latest, and may I say, somewhat belligerent, reported position is bewildering to say the least. It’s also deeply and distressingly disappointing. If Australia is to move forward from the pariah status it rightly earned under the Morrison government, immediate and meaningful action on climate is essential. There is literally no time to lose. Climate change isn’t some vague nebulous future threat to our country or the planet. It’s here. It’s arrived. Just like the 98 per cent of scientists warned us it would decades ago, and who begged us all to act. And to prepare. Now it’s very nearly too late. We’re in the middle of it. The evidence is here for all to see. Catastrophic floods, unprecedented bushfires, damaging winds and storms, and harsh droughts. All have increased in severity and frequency. And they will continue to do so. The physical impact on the land and the environment has been, is, and will continue to be, horrific. The social and economic impacts from the destruction of lives, homes, businesses, and health is immeasurable. And it will only get worse.


And then there’s COVID. Arguably also a symptom of climate change. The wilful and greedy mismanagement of our global environment has resulted in the emergence of serious diseases. Scientists warned us of this probability too. With the warming climate some of those diseases are now being experienced in many more regions, and affecting many more people. Australia is far from being immune to this threat.


And yet Mr Albanese, now you are Prime Minister, you no longer appear inclined to work collaboratively with those so-called ‘teal’ Independents, and the increased number of Greens MPs. You claim a mandate for your government that has a majority of two. Please remember Anthony, these Independents – and Greens – are MPs who were elected because voters in their electorates are demanding our federal government acts on climate change. And acts immediately. And that action MUST include a swift transition from the fossil fuel industry we know is a major cause of the climate mess we’re now dealing with.


Please remember those Independents and Greens secured a vote of a good 30 per cent of the national vote. Labor might have secured a slightly higher percentage of votes, but still in the 30s, with the Liberals/Nationals securing a total somewhere in between. Your majority therefore is slim and cannot seriously be described as a ‘mandate’.


For all our sakes, and those of future generations, please waste no more time. Climate change is above political ideologies. We expect you and your government to work with those ‘teals’ and the Greens, say no to more coal mines, to close existing ones as rapidly as possible, and ensure those working in mining communities are able to transition to the cleaner and greener employment opportunities in the renewable technology options that abound in this country.


There’s literally no time to waste.

Images courtesy of Pexels

Culling – or legal blood sport

Although not widely reported, Tasmanians were made aware last week that millions of the state’s wildlife was being legally killed. The details came to light because of a Right to Information request, submitted by the Tasmanian Greens, that sought specific details about the number of wildlife deaths as part of a parliamentary Budget Estimates Committee hearing. The shocking answer revealed that the government’s Property Protection Permit system allowed landowners and farmers seeking to reduce the damage to crops and vegetation from wildlife species, to slaughter upwards of two million animals and birds from 2019 to June this year.

I wonder if those figures would ever have come to light had that RTI request not been made.

One would think this sort of number would shock people to the core. That they would be horrified, appalled, angered and outraged at hearing about such carnage. From comments made on The Mercury newspaper’s website, and its Facebook page, a lot of people were not. Quite the opposite. They trotted out the usual responses about Tasmania being over-run with wildlife, and that a good kill – sorry cull – was essential. That farmers and landowners had every right to shoot wildlife that had the audacity to peck fruit or nibble on grain crops.

Of course farmers need to protect the crops that become the food we all eat, and nobody denies some mitigating measures are necessary, but shooting surely shouldn’t be regarded as the first or only one. It’s not as though alternative deterrents aren’t available, and could be implemented. The typical excuse is they are expensive and inconvenient and the result would be more expensive food. Shooting wildlife is therefore simpler and cheaper.

I’ve no idea what it is that makes some humans killers. Of anything. Sure, we are all guilty of reducing the population of blowflies, mosquitoes, European wasps, mice and rats, without thinking too deeply about it. They are pests to be sure, and can cause harm and disease. But to actively condone the massacre of wallabies, possums, wombats, black swans and native hens? That makes no sense to me when, as a nation, Australia has allowed so many of its iconic species to become extinct since European settlement. The most infamous of which in Tasmania of course is the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger

. Until relatively recently there were serious fears the Tasmanian devil would go the same way, but millions of dollars have been spent during the last 20-odd years to ensure its survival from the fatal facial tumour disease that has ravaged the species in the wild.

And that’s the thing. Millions of dollars and volunteer hours are spent caring for injured and orphaned wildlife so the disconnect between this attitude, and the wholesale slaughter that also occurs, is shocking.

So now here we are, endorsing the murder of many of Tasmania’s wildlife species, when so little is known about the importance they have for biodiversity, or even their overall population numbers. Not to mention their importance as a tourist attraction, one that both government and industry are happy to spruik in the promotional literature encouraging people to visit so they can enjoy the state’s unique wildlife experience.

Then, when people do visit Tasmania, they are horrified at the number of carcasses they see lining the state’s roads. Because in addition to the animals legally killed under the PPPs, there are reportedly an additional 500,000 roadkilled animals annually.

Tasmania likes to market itself as being ‘clean and green’. The sad truth is it’s anything but.

Life can be so full of surprises

In the wake of the devastating 2019-20 bushfires that raged across so much of eastern Australia for weeks, I wrote a poem that raged against prime minister Scott Morrison’s total failure to show any kind of genuine leadership, or even common decency, empathy or humanity.

The poem was a piece of writing sparked by the words submitted in that week’s Word Expo – a word game I’ve been playing now for well over 10 years with writers from around the world, although these days limited to Australia and New Zealand. Writers submit a word, one that’s not been previously used, and from the disparate list invited to create a piece of writing. It can be anything – poetry, anecdote, story, script – the only criteria is that at least three of the submitted words are included.

While I still hesitate to describe myself as a poet, poetry is often what emerges from this weekly list of words. And most of the poems are political, often relating to a situation that’s been dominating the media in some capacity. It’s quite cathartic to vent one’s anger, frustration or despair at whatever is occurring that week in the state, the country or the world.

In January 2020 it was Australia’s bushfires, and the breathtakingly unbelievable discovery our PM had deemed it OK to quietly creep off to Hawaii with his family while half the country was engulfed in flames. His reasoning for abandoning communities whose homes had been destroyed, and landscapes, forests, animals scorched and decimated, and exhausted firefighters and volunteers, was because he ‘doesn’t hold a hose, mate’.

My poem was in the form of a letter and entitled Dear Mr Morrison. Once written it joined others in a bulging portfolio I keep in the filing cabinet, and that might occasionally be rolled out for a reading at the monthly Poetry Pedlars evening. But after spotting a call out for contributions for an anthology – planned as a fundraiser to support sanctuaries overwhelmed with wildlife victims from the fires – I offered this one, since it fitted the climate change/bushfire theme essential to submission requirements.

My poem was accepted, and the anthology was duly published in 2020. It includes impressive and moving comments and personal accounts and hopefully raised significant dollars to aid the rescue and recovery of the millions of animals and birds injured and displaced as a result of those terrible and disastrous fires. While I was not unnaturally pleased to see it in print, it never occurred to me that publication in this modest tome might prompt additional interest.

So an email seeking permission to use an extract from Dear Mr Morrison, from Australian academic Eve Darian-Smith who is based in the US, and was writing a book on the global response to climate change from a world where right-wing governments were on the rise, was completely unexpected. And she was terribly apologetic that she couldn’t offer me any payment, should I agree to her request.

To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement! Needless to say I agreed. Who wouldn’t at such an unlooked-for opportunity!

Publication was scheduled to be in early 2022, and I was promised a copy of the book. Late last week it arrived, and sure enough that extract is included (on pages 57 and 58 actually).

Sometimes you never know how, or with who, the words we write will resonate and find their own life in the world. It’s highly likely the idea for the poem was born on a Thursday, so it could be argued this particular ‘child’ was always likely to have ‘far to go’!

Voting for our future

Despite the best of intentions to keep this blog a political-free zone, I’ve decided it’s not possible. And not just because there’s a federal election in four weeks. Possibly the most important one ever, and one that could just deliver a result able to bring us back from the climate change brink, or else send us spiralling into a frightening future from which there will be no safe return.

It’s no great secret I support the Greens. I joined the party in the early years of the pulp mill campaign, as did Peter Whish-Wilson, who is now an Australian Greens senator and up for re-election. I first got to know Pete when we were both founder members of community group Friends of the Tamar Valley, and he was one of several FTV members, (including me) who stood as support candidates for the Greens either in state or federal elections.

Pete epitomises that saying about a person who ‘grows into the job’. He’s certainly done so since first entering the Senate in 2012, following the sudden and surprise retirement of Bob Brown. Big shoes indeed, but Pete’s filled them fabulously, fighting for our forests, our oceans, our state and our planet for 10 years.

He sees this election as the climate election. So do I. We are literally fighting, politically speaking, for a habitable future on the planet. This election is crunch time for Australia in my opinion, and I’m proud to be doing as much as possible to achieve not just Pete’s re-election, but the dismissal of a blind and blinkered federal Liberal/National government that refuses to divorce itself from its toxic relationship with the fossil fuel industry. This industry has contributed massively to creating the climate extremes Australia has experienced to the hilt of late. Whether it’s bushfires, drought, or floods, we’ve copped the lot and the damage to lives, to homes, communities, to agriculture and the economy more broadly has been immense. And all the signs point to all these climate-induced extremes getting worse if we do nothing. Yet Scott Morrison’s Coalition government remains complacent despite overwhelming scientific and economic evidence that says the result of inaction will be environmentally, socially and economically disastrous.

The nation’s youth are screaming too – a demographic that so far has been overlooked in this campaign. That over 700,000 first-time voters registered with the AEC on the last day before the books closed, was apparently unprecedented. Most of those are probably young people determined to have their voices heard, and an opportunity to vote for candidates who are demanding action on climate change.

A fundraiser supporting Pete’s re-election campaign is on next Saturday. Poetry for the Planet, with several slices of pizza thrown in, as well as some motivational words from the man himself. I’m one of the approximately 12 poets invited to share their words about climate change, and the environment. I’m told tickets are selling well, and that’s good. I’m also told that support for the Greens has been rising rapidly in the last few weeks. Not that you’d hear about it in the mainstream media since the focus has been almost exclusively on Liberals and Labor.

I’m hoping the Greens will be the quiet achievers on the 21st May, and will be a vibrant and visionary force in the next parliament. They’re certainly the only ones with a realistic plan to transition the country forward.

Remember the wildlife

For all the bounty harvested from the garden at the moment, summer can be a distressing time of the year. Hot dry summers mean plenty of time spent watering the plants of course, but they also signal a rise in animal fatalities on our roads. It’s also the time of year that our local farmer separates the youthful steers from their mums. And unsurprisingly the mums are upset. They aren’t afraid to vocalise their distress either, keeping up the lowing and keening pretty much non-stop for three days. And nights. The mother-son bond is strong, but the bond can also be strong for wildlife. I was reminded of this the other day after finding a native hen on the roadside that must have been whacked by a car. This was an adult bird, and probably one of the parents of a family we’ve seen several times lately crossing the road from the paddock to the riverbank. Mum, dad and four chicks – now almost fully grown.

While pairing up isn’t necessarily a lifetime bond for native hens, there still does seem to be a closeness if the behaviour of one of the birds I spotted this morning is anything to go by. A bird I strongly suspect was the partner of the one that was killed was obviously searching for something other than food. I guessed it was probably his/her mate. These family groups of native hens hang around together and they do tend to throw caution to the winds when it’s time for the parents to show the kids around the neighbourhood. Out our way this can often involve crossing the road so it’s unsurprising a few of them don’t make it. Usually though, it’s one of the inexperienced chicks. 

But it’s not only native hens that come to grief as the young ones grow up. In the last week I’ve also found a dead magpie, an eastern rosella, a young rabbit, and a copperhead snake. As well as on one memorable morning of carnage, three wallabies. It prompted me to write a letter to our local community newsletter, urging people to slow down when driving, and to consider our wildlife. I can only hope it will make a difference:

“Another plea to everyone in our community to please, please, PLEASE slow down when driving along our roads, and to be aware of our precious wildlife. Recently I was obliged to remove no less than three roadkilled bennetts wallabies – all male.

One was found while walking our dog, then two more when on my way to an appointment in town. All were killed along our road. Two had been very recently killed as they were still warm, and the oozing blood was still wet.

At this time of year when vegetation is drying out and wildlife are more likely to be checking out the grass along the verges, and seeking a bit of moisture, they are also more likely to be active outside the traditional dusk to dawn timeline. All the development in our area is slowly displacing our wildlife, and reducing their decreasing habitat even further.

Please consider that this area is their home too. And it was their home long before all of us arrived. We are incredibly fortunate to have wildlife living so close. Most of us, I’m sure, value, appreciate and enjoy their proximity. So please do your bit to help protect and maintain it. It’s worth remembering too that vehicle damage from colliding with a bennetts in particular – can be significant. And expensive. Thank you.”

It’s beyond distressing to find carcasses on the roadside so to any and all who stumble across this post, please take note. And remember we do indeed share this planet with other creatures, many of whom are now living on the edge due in large part to human activity, and a rapidly changing climate.

Death traps

Mornings at this time of year are dominated by harvesting fruit. From mid-December it was boysenberries – and we have the most abundant crop ever of these wonderful juicy and slightly tart long black berries. They’re still going a month on, although have slowed, thank goodness. There are only so many one can eat after all – for breakfast lunch and dinner at the moment – and the freezer is well stocked already. Friends and neighbours have also benefitted. As have the birds. The decision was made not to net the boysenberries this year. Too hard. I was sceptical but in fact this year’s crop has been so huge the few berries the birds have taken has almost been a relief!

As well as boysenberries though there are now raspberries to pick. These vines are covered and it is rather a jungle in there despite our best efforts to keep them under control. The nets keep the birds out, but not the bees, other insects, or tiny tree frogs. The latter are attracted by the shady cool environment, and a regular supply of moisture. So there are small risks and to avoid them I need to navigate some fragile barriers as I make my way down the row. Three delicate, finely spun and ecliptic structures greet me every day. They’re a silent, sticky and visible klaxon strung across the path, their owner stretched out and waiting in the middle, shimmering in the dappled sunlight, a warning to the unwary. But I know they’re there so I’m prepared. I flicked a morsel to one of them once, by way of an apology for the daily destruction I cause to their handiwork. Or should that be legwork? I was stunned at the speed that tiny creature was wrapped, bound and suspended. Talk about deadly efficiency.

By now the iridescent proprietors of these deadly traps must know I’m coming. Perhaps they sigh with irritation at the knowledge they will have running repairs to do again when I’ve gone. I like to think they realise I’ve had the decency to disturb them as little as possible, by trying not to wreck the whole web. I can only admire their patience and resilience since they’ve yet to give up in disgust and abandon this real estate. It must be lucrative, because tomorrow those three webs will almost certainly be strung across the narrow walkway separating the two rows of raspberry canes.

 

A time of goodbyes

It’s been another strange year in these Covid times. While 2021 is drawing to a close 2022 is shaping up to be equally challenging. We’re all learning to navigate our way through a new reality without a reliable guide, map or compass.

This year has been a time of loss, both of well-known people and of the less well-known. During the last couple of months the sudden and unexpected death of a friend and former neighbour was a shock. We reconnected with Stuart when he returned to Tasmania after living overseas for several years and set about renovating his little house across the river from us. Despite being the unlikeliest candidate to be felled by a heart attack, ticking none of the boxes generally associated with cardiac issues, this was Stuart’s fate. Proof of the adage that one really does never know the hour or the day, and living each day like it could be your last really is the way to be. He certainly packed a lot of living into his 70-odd years, travelling to, and really immersing himself into, the cultures of more countries than most of us would experience in ten lifetimes. We will miss him.

I posted a photo of this rather spectacular gladioli on social media for both Stuart and Ruth – a friend and former colleague at Osborne Public Library where I worked before moving to Tasmania, and who died earlier this year – as well as for the three far better-known Tasmanian identities, all of whom died within weeks of each other: Tim Thorne, Annie Greig and Peter Cundall.

I’m not generally a fan of gladioli but the bulbs were in the garden when we moved to this property, and they certainly have their own appeal in the right situation. This one was certainly impressive, and a giant even for a flower that’s known for its height.

For many Australians gladdies are associated with Dame Edna Everage aka Barry Humphries. I still tend to associate them with funerals – tribute sheaves, and casket arrangements. It goes back to my previous life as florist shop co-owner.

But the analogy holds given that during the closing weeks of 2021 Tasmania – and particularly Launceston – lost three of its finest people in Tim, Annie and Peter. They were all leaders in their field, and were truly lovely, caring and generous individuals. I feel privileged to have known all of them, albeit not necessarily well, or for lots of years.

So in memory of all these impressive people: renowned poet, writer and environmentalist Tim; dancer and cultural icon Annie; and Peter: writer, horticulturist, gardener extraordinaire, and champion of the environment, this tribute is for you as well as Stuart and Ruth..

Tim was a fine and witty poet, and a tremendous advocate for fairness, justice and the environment. He was also on the Red Jelly panel, (when this little Tasmanian publication was still going) that gave the tick of approval to one of the first short stories I ever submitted. So Tim was also behind my very first publishing success. I cannot pretend to have known him well but certainly recall a memorable trip to Campbell town with Tim (I was driving) during the pulp mill campaign to meet up with a group of fellow environmental and political activists from around Tassie. It was a rather interesting if fiery meeting with some people who held more extreme views than I had – or have – but Tim was certainly one of the still but steely voices of reason and comparative calm. When he could get a word in!

 

For many years I knew Annie Greig as the long-time director of Tasdance. She was always at the theatre door with her lovely warm and welcoming smile before each of the performances. Much more recently I knew her from cardio and Pilates classes at the uni, along with the oxygen tank that was by then beginning to accompany her everywhere. Exercising to Annie’s infectious laugh, joyful attitude and incredible optimism about her situation was an inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Peter Cundall, who was such a fabulous caring man whose passion for gardening, and his knowledge about plants, was immense. I felt hugely privileged to call him a friend, getting to know him and Tina during the long years of the pulp mill campaign, and exchanging several emails during those years.

 

Peter was a familiar figure to me before the pulp mill years though, as our paths frequently crossed at the newsagents on a Saturday morning during our flower shop years. After finishing his stint at ABC Radio discussing all things plants, he would buy a copy of The Age, (while I was collecting a copy of the Ex) then hide behind its pages while enjoying a coffee at The Muffin Kitchen, our commercial neighbour in the Quadrant Plaza. It was clear he hoped to avoid being disturbed by yet another question about lemon trees, or what to do about curly leaf. Then, of course, I will always be grateful he generously agreed to my request to launch ‘Breaking the boundaries: Australian activists tell their stories’ – in Launceston, as per the publisher’s request. This was a book in which I had an essay about the aforementioned pulp mill campaign. Peter was a truly lovely man, and he will be very much missed by so many.

 

 

 

 

Community matters: 1

After living in the area for almost 30 years it would be fair to say I feel rather plugged into it. I didn’t at first but that was when we still had the florist shop. My time was divided between the retail shop, and the fledgling flower growing side of the business. I was hardly home, and when I was home I was knee deep in picking and processing flowers, paper work, or housework. Getting to know the neighbours didn’t feature and it was a situation I didn’t like given the distance between neighbours in this semi-rural area was more than a few steps away if assistance was needed for an unexpected emergency, or just to enjoy the time of day.

It was perhaps in our second year in the previous property that I decided to borrow Mum’s idea and have a Happy Hour a few days before Christmas. She did it for the first time the year my father died, way too young, probably as a way of keeping the blues under control as Christmas began on the 24th for my parents. It was their wedding anniversary. Going out for a meal was never on the cards when my brother and I were growing up, so the celebration was a special family meal at home. Then on the 30th it was Dad’s birthday so all in all Christmas in our household was a seriously festive week.

Over the years Mum’s Happy Hour on the 23rd became a major occasion for family, friends and neighbours alike, and that ‘hour’ had grown to be more like an extremely convivial five or six. Mum knew most of her neighbours – it was renowned as a very friendly street! – I knew none of ours but that first Happy Hour we held changed all that.

I designed a basic invitation and letterboxed maybe a dozen of those neighbours closest to us. We had no idea how many might choose to turn up, so catering was guesswork, and on the conservative side when it came to nibbles and finger food. Too conservative as it turned out as nearly everyone I’d letterboxed turned up! Insufficient food notwithstanding It was definitely a success, as well as a terrific way for everyone else to meet their neighbours, not just us! Friendships were cemented as a result of that impromptu decision, and our social life improved dramatically. The Happy Hour tradition continued for several years until various neighbours moved away, moved on, and my life got too busy generally juggling various work commitments – as well as the pulp mill campaign.

Now we’ve moved on, although we’ve remained in the area. We also already know most of our neighbours. But as we head towards Christmas I’m thinking it’s perhaps time to resurrect that Happy Hour idea, and invite those in our friendly community around to have a bit of a ‘do’ a few days before the 25th. Working on it.

Image credit: 

https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/diverse-people-set_6703775.htm

Mothers and daughters

I’m rather proud of this fern, which is a daughter of a plant I’ve had since our florist shop/flower growing years so we’re talking a decade or two really. The mother plant was at death’s door for a while. No idea why – and still don’t – but while there seemed to be a spark of life I kept on nurturing her and she finally rewarded me by recovering. Oh, the power of never giving up!

Now she’d found her mojo mother fern kept on thriving and over time she outgrew several pots. She is now very mature and is in the largest pot I could find that doesn’t weigh a ton and which still looks OK indoors rather than outside, but I’m running out of house room to display her in a manner to which her venerable age deserves.

However she isn’t called a hen and chicken fern for nothing, but it took a while before I had a crack at propagating some of those ‘babies’ bursting forth along her fronds. I tend to leave that sort of thing to the resident green fingered plant guru, who is a master at growing plants from seeds or cuttings. Particularly if it’s an Australian native plant – his own special passion and about which he’s now hugely knowledgeable. But I checked out some of our growing library of plant books and followed the instructions, then held my breath. Eventually five little ferns all took – four of which have subsequently gone to other homes and are hopefully still thriving. I know at least two of them are.

The fourth is also thriving, and has been re-potted twice, but this one is of a later batch and currently has pride of place in the bedroom. She is also producing ‘babies’ so as we head towards spring it could be time to start the maternity ward up again in the potting shed. Then I’ll need to find some homes for them.