Green-fingered Fred transforms landscaped area during lockdown

September 24, 2020 | Dan Todd

Fred in the Garden outside his shared ownership home in New Brighton

With the UK in lockdown over the summer many of us found ways to spend our time more productively, completing odd jobs, giving our home a spring clean, or starting a new DIY project.

But one resident at Onward Living’s Potters Mews development in New Brighton, Wirral, has taken this to a whole new level.

76-year-old Fred Needham has given the outdoor space at the front of his apartment block a complete makeover, removing debris and planting hundreds of new bulbs.

Retired plasterer Fred and his partner Ann, 77, moved to their new apartment at Potters Mews at the end of March, just two days before the national lockdown was announced.

Fred said: “When we moved here and the lockdown started, I got very bored just sitting around and doing nothing. So, I got off my backside and went out and started tending to the garden at the front of the building.

“I started off just watering the plants and bushes, as we had quite a hot spell at the time, but then I got more and more interested in it. I contacted Onward Living and asked if I could spruce it up a bit and they said yes.

“Since then I’ve planted around 300 to 400 bulbs for this coming spring. There’s all sorts in there – crocuses, daffodils, roses, the lot.”

Before and after of the gardens at Potters Mews

With no communal garden at Potters Mews, the small landscaped areas at the front of the building are not included in the residents’ monthly service charge, with Onward Living arranging for gardeners to maintain the area on an ad hoc basis. However, they were more than happy to accommodate Fred’s hobby.

Fred said: “This project has really helped me through lockdown as I love pottering in the garden and putting my own stamp on things. I enjoy spending two or three hours out there before Ann calls me in for a cup of coffee and something to eat. It definitely keeps me occupied.”

Fred isn’t the only one who is delighted with the transformation. His neighbours love it, too.

“Lots of people have commented on it – not just at Potters Mews but from the whole street,” said Fred. “Every time I go out there somebody stops to tell me how nice it looks.”

And Fred isn’t finished yet. He added: “I’ve had a few problems with dogs walking over it and digging things up, so I’ve asked Onward Living if I can have a small privet hedge as a perimeter around the garden. A gardener has come down and taken some measurements already.”

Sandy Kelly, head of sales at Onward Living, said: “Fred has done an amazing job transforming the landscaped areas at Potters Mews.

“With the lockdown in full force during the summer and the lovely weather we had, we’re glad that Fred was able to make the most of the outside space while enjoying his hobby.”

Fred and Ann outside their shared ownership apartment in New Brighton

Fred and Ann bought their two-bedroom ground floor apartment through shared ownership after deciding to downsize from their previous house in Wallasey village.

Fred, who suffers from glaucoma, stumbled upon the development while on his way to an appointment at a nearby eye clinic.

Fred said: “I first saw Potters Mews when it was coming out of the ground and I took a very keen interest in it. I stopped and looked at the building and said, ‘That’s going to be a nice site’. It was exactly where we wanted it in New Brighton.”

And despite moving in during the lockdown, Fred and Ann couldn’t be happier in their new home.

“We’ve got a fabulous life here,” said Fred. “Our apartment is next to none; we absolutely love it. We’re handy for the doctors, we’re handy for the bus stops, there’s a local shop, and we’re not too far from the beach. I’ve even joined a local bowls club, where I go every day.”

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