Nupha - European Cow Lily
Periodic years of prolonged drought had ravaged the gardens at various points in its history. The lake, when clean and healthy, had the potential to be a water supply in time of drought, mitigating the impact of water shortages. In an issue of Botanical News in 1982, David Churchill argued passionately for the necessity of this water supply. He asserted that ‘saving the lake is the safest way to ensure the continued existence of these horticultural collections for our benefit and enjoyment and for future generations.’ The Save the Lake Campaign was critical for the survival of the gardens.
As a result of the campaigning, lobbying, fundraising and hard work, just over $200,000 was raised and the lake was saved. Early Friends member and a Past President, David Wilkinson, witnessed the transformation and was impressed by the magnitude of the task:
… to get what had been a silted-up lower lake full of ancient water lily roots to be emptied for the first time I think ever, with enormous great excavators and trucks out onto Birdwood Ave. It was a huge engineering feat really and hugely successful. Of course since then the bottom lake has become an integral part of the irrigation scheme with the renewal of the Guilfoyle’s Volcano and all the marvellous things that have happened over the past decade or so. 
The campaign not only saved the lake but also launched the Friends of the Royal Botanical Gardens. It was an auspicious beginning and proof of what a passionate group of volunteers can achieve together.
 Interview with David Wilkinson, 29 May 2017.