Garden flat

Garden flat

A green-fingered pensioner living in a block of ex-council flats in a city suburb has transformed his weed-filled front garden – into a spectacular riot of colour.

Ray Foley, 79, started tidying up the scrub-land outside his ground-floor apartment five years ago after he and his wife Barbara, 75, moved in.

Despite having no gardening experience, the retired builder planted hundreds of flowers, bushes and trees in a bid to brighten up the area.

NTI_COUNCIL_FLAT_OASIS_34Mr Foley has now become something of a local celebrity in Shirley, on the outskirts of Birmingham, and is bombarded with requests from people begging him to use his skills to transform their gardens.

Mr Foley, who has two grown-up children and one granddaughter, said: “I have been totally overwhelmed by the response from people.

“I didn’t even like gardening that much really when I started. We bought the ground-floor flat in the 1980s and my mum moved in.

“When she passed away in 1994 we rented it out until five years ago when we decided to make it our home when our larger house became too big for us to manage.

“The front garden was pretty overgrown and full of rubbish and lager cans. I started by cleaning it up and cutting the bushes back so it didn’t look like a jungle.

NTI_COUNCIL_FLAT_OASIS_27“It sort of went from there. Every week I went to the local garden centre and bought more seedlings and researched more about what flowers came out when.

“Within a few years I was quite proud of what I’d created but I was stunned when people started banging on my door congratulating me on my gardening skills and asking me to do their gardens and hanging baskets.”

Mr Foley’s garden, which measures 20ft by 28ft, now boasts 2,000 petunias, dozens of roses, lillies, begonias and dahlias.

Mrs Foley, a retired hospital worker, added: “Ray has transformed the place.

“The flowers and creepers go all over our front wall and at this time of year it looks like an explosion of colour.

“It certainly brightens up this area of town which is basically roads and tower blocks.”