“Who on earth is Smellycat??” I hear you ask… Smellycat is the resident kitty at Kelways Nursery, which is where our native plants for the Show Garden have been cared for by Dave and Sonya Root. I think I’ll let Dave explain the rest…
“Dr Phil and Jim asked us to have a go at raising some rare and endangered species of seeds from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne seed bank. I agreed and said I would have a go. The seeds actually arrived by special courier and as a result of a lot of paperwork from Australia. I had to sign a declaration that I would not sell the resultant plants commercially.
We took great care to sow the seeds according to the instructions that the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne sent with them – some needed soaking in boiling water and some needed a smoke treatment to display the bushfires. There were 10 packets in all, and I had never heard of nine of these species so it was all very exciting!
Even more exciting was the day the first seeds started to germinate. After about two months, we had six pots with six different species in them. These included Eucalyptus Perinniana, Rhagodia Parabolica, Swainsona Greyana, Acacia Caerulescens, Zygophyllum Apiculatum and Leptorynchos Squamatus. The rest did not ever germinate…at all.
We looked after these precious seedlings carefully and every day we opened the propagator lid for ventilation. They were in our kitchen which was a warm room and near the Aga. Eventually, we left the lid off altogether so that the seedlings would have more light. A few days later however, we came home for lunch, went into the kitchen and found our cat – a tabby called Smellycat (because as a kitten he made bad smells in his poo-box!) munching away in the propagator. Horror struck! We rushed over and pulled him off but he ran off with the seedlings like cress hanging out of his mouth. Three pots had just stumpy little stalks left in them – these were the Acacia Caerulescens, the Zygophyllum and the Leptorynchos. Fortunately the others were okay but Smellycat was banned from the kitchen and I had to sheepishly report back to Jim and Dr Phil that the huge amount of effort in getting the seeds to the UK had culminated in a cat-snack.
Fortunately, they took it very well and even sent over more seeds of different species that we now have growing on the windowsill…the cat is still banned!”