It took crowds just half an hour to clear the beds of tulips at the Conservatory Gardens on Thursday morning.
Eager gardeners had been waiting since the early morning for the city’s annual tulip dig.
It was worth wait for Irene Pilcher who arrived at 6.30am.
Ms Pilcher had come to dig the tulips with granddaughter Macie, aged five.
“It’s wonderful for the town, isn’t it? We have all the pleasure of the flowers, and then we get to share them,” Ms Pilcher said.
“I’m very pleased I came early. It was certainly worth waiting for, and the time passed because you meet people.”
Trish Buckley had come to the dig for the third time with her daughter Emma Crowle.
Ms Buckley had come because she likes tulips, and “because we can”.
The pair had been busy digging up bulbs from one bed, and by about 9.20am were ready to move on to another to fill their two bags.
They had waited in line since about quarter past eight.
By 9am the queue stretched from the entrance to the Conservatory Gardens back to the Chinese Gardens.
Gates opened at 9am on the dot, to a steady stream of tulip diggers, some of whom had been there since dawn.
Diggers young and old bent over the beds. Some were intent on pulling up the best tulips for their garden, others were less serious about filling their two bags.
The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the tulip.
A dedicated aunty showed her mettle at this year’s tulip dig. Kobee Busse had been preparing since the small hours of the morning.
Ms Busse had a friend put two named camp chairs at the entrance to Conservatory Gardens at 3.30am for her niece and nephew.
She arrived at the Conservatory Gardens at 7am to queue for Fleur and Arie, aged three and five.
The annual tulip dig sees keen-gardeners line up to dig tulip bulbs up from the city’s garden beds at $5 a bag.
The queue already stretched several metres by 7.15am.
Ms Busse said the kids were “so excited” to dig up tulips. She went to her early morning lengths to ensure they got into the gardens.
“This is harder than getting tickets to the Spice Girls,” Ms Busse said.
“The line-up will be crazy, people become gung ho. It’s a different world.”
Ms Busse wasn’t the only one who’d had an early morning. Merilyn Sheldon of Eaglehawk arrived at 7.05am, to find several ahead of her in the queue.
Ms Sheldon was up early to ensure she bagged her preferred colours: pink and white.
Last year she’d arrived at the gardens at about 8am to find the queue already “two thirds down the fence”. A keen gardener she had been pleased with the success of last year’s bag of tulip bulbs, and the bargain.
“I did it last year and I planted, and I think everyone grew. Plus, they’re cheap,” Ms Sheldon said.
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