• Sandra Caganoff

This is a story about plants and not giving up

Melville has had a hard time during this pandemic. Restaurants and bars have come and gone, new ones have opened but are taking strain, and there are a lot of TO LET signs on 7th Street. It’s heartbreaking to see and it has been tough on everyone.

Unemployment has increased and so has homelessness.


When the little No Name Nursery at the 27 Boxes closed down last week, I felt like this was a death knell. The owners, Rod and Michael, had managed to keep going during the pandemic. But when Rod died from Covid-19 complications, may he RIP, Michael could not carry on. And so plants were offered at a whopping 50% discount for one day only, and then there was a CLOSED FOR BUSINESS sign.

It felt bleak.


If the nursery couldn’t make it, could any of us?


But I have seen something lovely over the last few days.


Friends and I helped ourselves to a few of the abandoned succulents the day after the 50% sale. Maybe we stole them, I don’t know, although I had been told it was a ‘free for all.’


We walked the hood, succulents in hand. When we passed the basket sellers on 4th Avenue, we offered up our goods.


‘They will look gorgeous in your baskets,’ we said.


They did look gorgeous. And the women sold more baskets that day than they normally sell. Business has been slow, but the succulents did well for them. And we figured Rod and Michael would be pleased.


The next day out on a stroll I walked past one of the charity shops in the hood. The owner came bounding over to me.

‘You enjoy gardening don’t you?’ she said. ‘We’re got some amazing plants, only R10 each. The proceeds are going to buy cat food.’


‘I’ll take a couple,’ I said, buying two plants instead of my usual cappuccino.


And then I walked home. But not before seeing a little row of pot plants, mostly succulents, beautifully laid out on the corner of 2nd, alongside the street bookseller's second-hand books.


Buy a book, get a plant for free.


I loved this.


The women could sell their baskets. The cats could eat. And the bookseller could put another small meal on the table.


The No Name Nursery continues, albeit in a different way. And so will our neighbourhood.


We got through the last two lockdowns. We will get through this one too.


Like these succulents, Melville is resilient. We just need a little water, a little sharing and a lot of love.



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