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.
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.”
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.