Neighbours say they often help out jungle garden hoarder
NEIGHBOURS of pensioner William Hackett, whose front garden resembles the wilds of deepest Borneo, have gently hit back at his claims of tree-haters and fly-tipping.
The Herald revealed yesterday how 74-year-old William feared his front garden in Billacombe Road, Plymstock, was becoming the target of unwanted tyre-donations and that he was being hounded by the "corporation" [Plymouth City Council] over the leaves from his trees.
However, neighbours have suggested William's tales are as tall as his trees, particularly his "Tree of Heaven" – Alianthus altissima – which is a native of China and grows in excess of 80ft.
On one side, 30-year-old father Chris Curtis admitted he had contacted the council, but only after an entire branch had landed on his van, not mere leaves.
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He said: "Leaves are natural and I have no problems with that. But this was a branch and I have children and it could have hit them.
"The branches don't look stable and I have offered to help cut them down for him."
Currently nursing broken bones in his hand Chris admitted he would have to hold off the help, but noted how William often took him up on his offer.
He said: "Every summer I go and chainsaw his back garden and take away all the wood in my van. I load up my vehicle and take it all away.
"I've offered to trim his trees, but I can't really do it at the moment with these broken bones. But it's always the same – if you want the tree trimmed back, we have to give our time and effort."
As for the mysteriously dumped tyres, which William said just turned up in his garden, Chris said: "William takes his car to have the tyres changed, but won't pay the fee to recycle them. So he brings them back with him, puts them in the garden and forgets he left them there. They're his tyres."
On the other side is Dave and Eleanor Ewart. The couple have lived next to William for a dozen years and have become exasperated at their neighbour's garden antics.
Dave, 61, said: "We trim the overhanging branches back, but hand them back to him, as the law states. We can't keep taking them away for him all the time.
"We had a really bad storm with high winds and we watched as huge branches came over and snapped. If someone had been under it, or a car – well, it would have been dangerous.
"He's got all manner of things in his garden – the heads of dolls, rubber snakes."
Eleanor, 59, adds: "He's a dear chap and he always asks after us. He loves his animals, his cats and dogs. But he's a hoarder and he's very stubborn. He won't get rid of anything."
Dave said he had repeatedly offered to cut down the trees and take the wood away, but understandably feels it should not be at the expense of the neighbours.
He sighed: "We've had this for 12 years. We sweep and shovel up the leaves and branches. We hardly have any light when the sun's up. I've told him recently, the trees have got to come down. They've got to."