Downpatrick gardener wins major UK award

Downpatrick gardener wins major UK award

11 October 2017

WHEN it comes to artistic hedge designs, Paddy Grant is certainly a cut above the rest and very much in a class of his own.

The retired landscape gardener has transformed the garden at his Ballyhornan Road home outside Downpatrick into a mini animal kingdom, with his stunning creations admired by neighbours and passers-by alike.

The 78 year-old is a master of the art of topiary — clipping shrubs into ornamental shapes — and now his skills have been recognised in the Daily Mirror’s nationwide gardening competition. For the second time in two years, Paddy won the best hedge/topiary category and he is delighted.

It was Paddy’s neighbour, Malachy Hanna, who entered him for the competition and the pensioner was delighted to discover last weekend that he was among the list of winners across the UK.

“I was delighted to win,” beamed Paddy. “I have been living here for 50 years and it was about 30 years ago when I started to design the hedges around my home which now features animals and even a farmer smoking a pipe.

“There are horses, dogs, hens, bears and an ostrich and people are often stopping outside my home to look at the designs I have created. There are even some who stop for a chat to find out more about the designs and how long I have been doing this kind of thing.”

Paddy, who started his many creations when he transformed part of a hedge into a pheasant three decades ago, said he loves being outside and said creating his designs is not hard work.

“The pheasant started everything off and all my creations are natural. I do not use wire to force the hedge to grow in a particular way. All I do is tie the branches and my clippers do the rest. That is really all there is to it,” he explained.

“I was surprised to be announced as one of the Daily Mirror’s UK winners and am pleased my designs are appreciated by others. I usually clip them around three times a year as once you get them into shape they are easy to maintain.”

Paddy admits his designs are a “labour of love” and that keeping them all in shape is something he thoroughly enjoys. He is also pleased with the reaction he gets from those who stop at this home to admire his handy work.

Paddy added: “It is very nice to win an award for something you really enjoy doing. I never thought when I created the ostrich all those years ago that I would go on to design so many other animals.”

Entries in the annual Daily Mirror competition were judged by gardening expert, Diarmuid Gavin, who explained the newspaper wanted to see what its readers were up to across the length and breadth of the UK and to celebrate their achievements in gardening.

“What we found was fantastic,” he said. “We should really rename this now annual competition the Mirror’s Spirit of British Gardening because our postbag was full of wonderful examples of what readers like to get up to and what they appreciate while outdoors.”

Praising all the winners, Diarmuid was quite taken by Paddy’s artistic creations in the garden of his home in rural Lecale. In fact, the judge described the photos submitted by Paddy’s neighbour as “quite surreal.”

He continued: “I had to examine the photographs really closely to see that it wasn’t computer-generated trickery that resulted in this wonderful display. But, no, I’m convinced it is all the work of Paddy in his garden. 

“An artist’s eye, nay, a cartoonist’s, has been used to create a world of comical animals, goats, hens, dogs and foxes, deer, ducks and even an emu – a farmer smoking a pipe and three bears guarding the driveway.”

Diarmuid added: “It’s as if Edward Scissorhands has gone mad. It’s an endearing achievement and an example of how a sense of humour and a nifty hand with the garden shears can be oh so entertaining.”