Gar­den cen­tre fi­nally back in Toko­roa

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

Green fin­gered folk in Tok’ fi­nally have their own gar­den cen­tre after years of hav­ing to travel out of town.

Avid gar­dener Fran­cie The­unis­sen has opened The Toko­roa Gar­den Cen­tre in Cham­bers St much to the re­lief of fel­low gar­dens who for around five years have been with­out a proper gar­den cen­tre.

The­unis­sen, who for­merly worked as a fi­nan­cial ser­vices man­ager, said on fin­ish­ing up with her for­mer em­ployer she con­sid­ered semi re­tir­ing to spend her time trav­el­ling.

But her love of gar­den­ing - she has two acres of her own in Old Taupo Rd - wouldn’t have a bar of it.

‘‘In the back of my mind I re­mem­bered the com­mu­nity wanted a gar­den cen­tre so I didn’t just sud­denly think I’d open a gar­den cen­tre, it was some­thing I knew i’d like to do,’’ she said.

‘‘I drove past the site where the cen­tre now is and saw a [for lease] sign on the fence. It was a sign but it was lit­er­ally a sign be­cause I could just vi­su­alise what a cen­tre would look like in here’’. She said things moved quickly. ‘‘I went back home and told my hus­band I had seen it and the next day it was all on and I got handed the keys straight away,’’ she said.

‘‘The per­son who owns the lot felt it was a re­ally good idea too and he’s been very sup­port­ive. It took two weeks from de­cid­ing to open­ing the doors and hav­ing it up and run­ning.’’

The­unis­sen said the cen­tre of­fers a wide range.

‘‘We have na­tives which are in­cred­i­bly hardy for our colder cli­mate, or­na­men­tal mulches, pot­ting mix and com­post, a gift range, and we have also got sup­plies for those who like to have a go grow­ing their own seeds,’’ she said.

The­unis­sen, who was also the for­mer man­ager of the Toko­roa Mitre 10 gar­den cen­tre be­fore it closed down, said her knowl­edge has helped im­mensely.

‘‘Other peo­ple have talked about it but I guess the bar­rier has been they haven’t known where to start,’’ she said.

‘‘Al­though I’m not an ex­pert in gar­den­ing I have def­i­nitely got the ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge to be able to pull this off and I’ve also got a fi­nan­cial back­ground and his­tory with sup­pli­ers so we just ran with the idea.’’

‘‘Peo­ple are lov­ing the beau­ti­ful sunny site and are re­ally pleased to see a gar­den cen­tre back in town,’’ she said.

The cen­tre’s open seven days.

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