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PICTURES: Trees overgrown? No way, my garden is just a bit busy, says Plymstock pensioner

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: November 27, 2012

  • William Hackett’s trees tower above the gardens of his neighbours

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A pensioner has vowed to protect his jungle-like garden despite complaints and a spate of suspected flytipping.

The front of William Hackett’s semi on Billacombe Road in Plymstock is completely obscured by his own private forest towering up to 50 feet tall.

Mr Hackett accepts his front garden is somewhat ‘busy’. He says his collection includes fir trees and a “Tree of Heaven” – Ailanthus altissima – which is native of China and grows to 80ft or even more.

Now he says his garden is attracting unwelcome attention.

The 74-year-old said the mini forest had been inspected by the council after a neighbour “complained about leaves on their car”.

And he says someone has been dumping old tyres in the garden.

Mr Hackett, who served in the Army medical corps during his National Service and the Navy reserves, said: “I’ve been finding the car tyres over the last couple of years. They just turn up in my garden, which has a lot of trees in it.

“The tyres cost £2 each to get rid of, but if I clear them away whoever dumps them will just continue. I found one under my kitchen window.”

However, he feels he is being unfairly blamed for other people’s dislike of such trees.

He said: “I went out yesterday and there was a man from the corporation [Plymouth City Council] taking photos of my garden saying there had been a complaint from one of the neighbours. They said there were ‘leaves on their car’.

“I told him, I didn’t invent Autumn. Besides, how do they know it’s leaves from my trees. Did they DNA test them?

“The corporation man’s response was ‘you’ll be getting a letter’.”

He added: “I’ve had people say ‘you want to cut it down’, ‘you want to do this’, ‘you want to do that’. They don’t come out and say it straight, they don’t have the strength of character.

“I think some city dwellers are intimidated by tall trees, but they are awesome things.

“It’s a strange attitude to have considering we need them so badly. I also think people think they can take advantage of older folk.

“I used to see it all the time when I worked for charities. I used to do volunteer work with the Retired Senior Volunteer Programme, helping older people deal with issues.

“My garden’s being ruined by other people dumping their rubbish. But I was here before the other people came.”

A spokesman for Plymouth City Council confirmed they had been to the address, but only to see if the trees were causing a disruption to the highway.

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