Tamworth gardener's cheeky green finger gets up someone's nose
A TAMWORTH market trader with a talent for topiary has been asked to 'leaf it out' after a passer-by objected to one of his creations which depicts a rude hand gesture.
The unusually-shaped shrub has been a feature of Richard Jackson's garden for eight years and has made plenty of people smile as they pass by.
But one person has recently taken offence at the depiction and complained to North Warwickshire Borough Council, who passed on the complaint to the police.
A police officer called round to visit Mr Jackson and his wife Linda, to suggest that the bush be altered to avoid offence – or a possible fine.
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If it could be proved that the shrub caused 'harassment, alarm or distress' to a passer by, then Richard could be fined under Section 5 of the Public Order Act which covers the display of 'any writing, sign or visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting'.
But Richard, who says he would love to work as a gardener, told the Herald he hadn't meant to offend anyone.
He said: "I'm just hoping all this will die down really. The bush was a bulky sort of shape and it is just what sprang to mind – I didn't think it would offend anyone. I have seen people smiling when they spot it as the they walk past and people take photographs of it. But it's been there for eight years, no-one has ever complained before.
"It's not directed at anyone, it's just a joke, it's light-hearted, it's meant to make people smile really."
Richard says he has had many jobs, but despite his evident skill at topiary, he has never yet been a gardener.
To trim his three shrubs takes all day, although it is a job he generally only has to do three or four times a year and he does the entire work with just a pair of hand shears.
His wife Linda said: "The neighbours love it, we are friendly people, we know everyone in the village and everyone knows us. I can't think who would have complained."
The couple have two grown-up daughters and three young grandchildren.
Richard added: "The grandchildren don't see it as a rude gesture, they wouldn't know that, why would they? As far as they are concerned, it is just a hand with a finger pointing.
"A few people have suggested I change it to two fingers, but I won't be doing that, I'm not out to offend anyone," he added.
The rest of the village appear to be firmly on the Jacksons side – with the pub across the road, the Hatters Arms, urging people to support the bush.
And local councillor Richard Meredith, who lives in the village said: "I am aware of the sophisticated gardening at the front of the Jackson's house – it's been there for years and I have always envied the amount of time he can spend on his garden. But I'm appalled to think that someone has complained about such attractive shrubs. I think it's very small-minded."