Preparing the plants

Preparing the plants

There is a little-known pre-Chinese New Year workout that guarantees you will lose 2 to 3 kg in a few weeks.

There are no newfangled exercises involved, just plain heavy lifting and running around under the sun. What do you have to do? Work at a plant nursery during the festive period.

About two weeks ago, I was in the thick of pre-festive frenzy at World Farm nursery in Bah Soon Pah Road, near the Khatib army camp. There, I became a manual worker for an afternoon, taking on a few laborious tasks that workers there do during this period, the busiest time for the trade.

On that warm Sunday, I found myself perched on a lorry, unloading pots of button chrysanthemums weighing 5kg each with three other workers.

I was guided by Mr Lee Meng Kwan, 48, assistant general manager of the nursery, an affable man whose tanned, weather-worn skin reflects his 22 years of experience in the industry.

We formed a human chain, passing the pots down to a smaller vehicle that would transport the plants to the sale area. The task was completed in under an hour. And barely an hour after the plants hit the sale zone, they were all snapped up. Coloured raffia strings were tied around the pots, indicating they had been reserved and paid for by customers.

That was the kind of blink-fast turnover the nursery sees on the weekends leading up to Chinese New Year, with customers showing up in droves as early as 8am, hoping to find the best plants that would bring them luck and prosperity.

Mr Lee declined to give specific figures, but said the nursery can ring up three to four times more sales during this period compared to regular days.

Business was so brisk that customers were left to grab their own trolleys and wander the nursery grounds to pick out popular plants, such as the yellow and red Phoenix Tail (celosia), kum quat and citrus lime trees, as well as the tall Cocks Comb plants.

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