“… want to go to Sungai Buloh?”
Ah, these words are music to my ears. How can I say no? I’d be ready in an instant.
This is one of the better known sites for garden centres (we call them nurseries) in the state. Imagine dozens of nurseries beneath the shady canopy of towering old trees. The trees are a delight; festooned with pigeon orchids, birdnest ferns and other epiphytes. I love the trees and the fresh water stream that runs through the place. But then, I digress.
A trip to Sungai Buloh has its own set of SOPs. First, the car. I empty the boot and line it, as well as the floor of the car, with newspapers. Once that’s done and I have the requisite bottle of water and cash, I am ready to hone in on one of my favourite destinations.
I make a beeline for the nurseries I like best, giving the rest a once-over in case I spot anything out of the ordinary. Before long, the car would be filled with flowering plants and herbs, and the boot with bags of soil. Often, fitting in the purchases require some ingenuity, especially when we usually buy more than we should.
Over the years, we’ve seen nursery ‘owners’ come and go. I miss old Mr Tan. He used to shuffle to the back and return with a pot in his hand. “This one’s special,” he’d say. “I propagated it myself.” More often than not, we’d leave with more than the bags of fertilizer and soil we intended to buy.
Mr Tan had a way of making you feel that you were a really special customer. He didn’t have a glib sales pitch but he could have sold ice blocks to the Eskimos with his disarming manner.
I have been collecting call cards and contact numbers of my favourite nurseries – just in case. At least then I can still contact them if they are suddenly relocated. I guess that’s the kiasu syndrome rearing its head.
In the meantime, maybe I should just go there more often.
Anybody wants to join me…?