Our immaculate gardens and park-like grounds are what set Omokoroa Country Estate apart from other retirement villages – and our gardening team work incredibly hard to ensure everything is picture perfect.
Chrissy Larsen joined us in mid-2022 and loves working outdoors in such a beautiful setting.
“It’s quite physical work – hedges need constant trimming, trees need pulling out and new ones need to be planted. We look after everyone’s front gardens to maintain a certain standard across the village,” she explains.
“But when I tell people I work here they always say, ‘oh the gardens are amazing.’ It makes me feel really proud to be part of a team that makes it look like a beautiful park.”
Chrissy grew up on a dairy farm in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and initially worked as a trained Karitane nurse before becoming a travel agent in the early 1990s. There aren’t many corners of the globe she hasn’t visited, although an upcoming trip to Vietnam later this year with her partner, Paul, will be a first.
“I like travelling to countries that have a totally different culture to what we have in New Zealand,” she says. “I’m looking forward to trying all the food in Vietnam. I love Asian food!”
She often discusses travel destinations with OCE residents and says Rarotonga is her favourite short-haul destination.
Chrissy also worked as a beauty consultant at Farmers’ central Tauranga store selling Revlon and Elizabeth Arden products. “I decided one day I wanted to work outside. It must have been a lovely summer’s day or something. So I left there and went to work at Décor Gardenworld at Bethlehem. I was there for 18 months and loved itbut wanted to be closer to home in Omokoroa”
During Covid lockdowns Chrissy used to go walking past OCE and always admired how beautiful the ground and gardens were. “I always thought I’d like to work here as gardening is my passion. Eight months ago an opportunity arose in the gardening team and here I am.”
Chrissy says her mother was a keen gardener and as a child she would often sit outside to watch and learn from her.
“I do have a soft spot for roses and spring bulbs. You can’t beat them, especially when you’ve gone through winter and suddenly a daffodil is there saying hello. At the moment I’m liking the minimalist look in our garden at home because we have a caravan and we go away a lot, plus I haven’t much spare time. We work from 7:30am till 4pm five days a week so I don’t have much energy left to have a big garden at home.”
The unusually wet summer has certainly provided an extra challenge for OCE’s gardening team. “The warm temperatures and high rainfall meant we had phenomenal growth. You could see things growing before your eyes, including the lawns. People would ask when they were going to be mowed only three days after Michael had mowed them! We’ve thankfully caught up again now.”
When she’s not at work, Chrissy enjoys heading out on the water to go fishing, spending time with her family including two grand-daughters aged 12 and 13, and taking the caravan away to the Coromandel. “I love freedom camping. There’s nothing to do. I sit in the sun and read my book and look at the view. I also enjoy a bit of sewing and handcraft. I don’t have much time for that at the moment but I plan to pick it up again in future once I retire myself.”