Poppy Seed from France: A Tribute from the Children of Villers-Bretonneux
In January 1920, the director of the Botanic Gardens in Sydney, Joseph Henry Maiden, received a parcel from France sent to him by Ettie Rout, Secretary of the New Zealand Volunteer Sisters. The box contained poppy seed gathered in the Somme Valley by the school children of Villers Bretonneux and came with a request that the seed be distributed to the relatives of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who had lost their lives in the Great War.Almost 1100 small packets of seed were sent to family members and comrades of those who had died, faithfully recorded by Maiden in large leather-bound volumes at the Botanic Gardens. Poppy Seed from France has involved tracing the recipients of the seed, the soldiers in whose memory they were planted and some of the stories behind the names.A century on, this research has brought to light a poignant story of remembrance, expressed through a living memorial of Flanders poppies blooming in gardens half a world away from the battlefields of France.
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