Saturday, October 17, 2009

it's a Canberra thing

One of my favourite events of the Canberra calendar is the twice yearly Australian Native Plant Society (ANPSA) plant sale. It is one of those events which I don't think could happen anywhere else - it is so quintessentially Canberra. And it is great fun and a little eccentric.

Canberra is full of retired public servants, professionals, academics and people who love a system. The ANPSA is these people. They take their efficiency very, very seriously.

Conscientious Canberrans arrive early. Lots of them. They queue up from the entrance gate back along the road for a couple of hundred metres. I have a better trick - but I won't be giving that away here.

The people that come have usually planned ahead, studied the list of plants, worked out a strategy and brought crates, bags, trolleys, boxes and other assorted systems for collecting plants.

The crowd surges forward and race each other, in a rather polite way, up the hill to where the plants are all laid out alphabetically. There is a frenzy to find the plants you most desire. Families separate, each with a list of target species, people rush this way and that. Trays and crates are filled. The experienced amongst us know which plants usually go first and head that way before going to find the ones we aren't so desperate to get.

Then we head off to pay for them. Now this is also part of the fun.

Paying for the plants is a 4 stage system. 4.

First someone takes them out your bag and puts them into trays according to size. DO NOT try to help. They get snappy. That person slide the tray along to someone who counts them and fills in a specially printed tally form. They then slide it along further to someone who checks the tally and takes the payment. Then that person slides it along to someone who takes them out of the tray and helps you put them back in your box/bag/crate etc. 4 steps.

I heard one woman this morning congratulating her girls ( 7 & 9 ish) for their marvelous skill in the quest. She joked, or maybe she wasn't joking, that they had spent the night before drilling the plant names.

I did quite well out of it.

And it inspired another wonderful spring afternoon in the garden.


twitchy fingers said...

I love it too! And you're right, it is SO Canberra...

Bells said...

i shall ply you with wine some time and find out your system!

Leonie said...

That sounds like so much fun! A bit of adrenaline, some careful rearrangement of personal space of yourself and others and then success! What a wonderful event.

Emma said...

It sounds like The Amazing Race of native plant purchasing, but my golly, the four stage purchasing system would do my head in!

Rose Red said...

Heh, sounds very funny!
Do you think someone should tell them about barcoding and (gasp) computers??!!