PICTURES: Alan Titchmarsh surprises zookeeper with garden makeover

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

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.

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

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

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.

“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.”

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

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.

“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

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)

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

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