PICTURES: Alan Titchmarsh surprises zookeeper with garden makeover

Alan Titchmarsh and his team of garden experts surprised zookeepers with a garden makeover '“ and millions of people saw the moment on TV tonight.

Wednesday, 16th August 2017, 10:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:31 pm
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team

When the Love Your Garden team heard about live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston’s hard work and dedicated, they decided to transform a patch of grass at the back of his flat, where the keepers eat lunch.

Under the guise of filming with the zoo’s penguins for a promotional video, the former Ground Force host and his band of merry workers instead spent last month plugging away in Johnpaul’s garden – inbetween torrential downpours.

Johnpaul, who has lived on site at the East Park Drive zoo for six years, said: “I couldn’t believe it when Alan Titchmarsh turned up at the penguin enclosure and told me I had been chosen – and it was my birthday too so the news couldn’t have come on a better day.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Alan Titchmarsh with zookeeper Johnpaul Houston (right) and Johnpaul's son Nathaniel (Pic: ITV)

“It was the talk of the zoo as everyone wonderd what the team was going to do with the area of grassland that had a few old picnic benches on it.

“But in my wildest dreams I wouldn’t have imagined how amazing it actually is.”

Each area of the garden has been designed around the countries were some of the zoo’s best-loved residents hail from, complete with native plants and signs.

A fire pit and relaxing water feature was installed, while keeper offices were painted with murals.

Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team

“Finishing touches such as a barbecue and bowls area means I can also spend lovely time here with my family, including my son Nathaniel, who is as delighted with the garden as I am,” Johnpaul added.

The show aired on ITV at 8pm.

Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
David Domoney helps build the new garden (Pic: ITV)
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Alan Titchmarsh with zookeeper Johnpaul Houston (right) and Johnpaul's son Nathaniel (Pic: ITV)
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
David Domoney helps build the new garden (Pic: ITV)
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team
Blackpool Zoos live-in assistant head keeper Johnpaul Houston's garden was transformed by Alan Titchmarsh and the Love Your Garden team