A husband who never takes his wife on holidays gave his wife a beautiful present as he spent two years and around $42,000 (£35,000) to transform his garden into a tropical paradise despite having never gardened before.
Construction worker Chris Lodge, 44, and his wife and business owner Sharon Lodge, 45, are so busy with work and caring for their disabled dog Dice, nine, that they never go on vacations for six years.
He has no experience of gardening, Chris worked on every free evening and weekend he had over 24 months into the mammoth project – and the results are outstanding.
Chris built a beautiful timber, driftwood and rope bridge across the garden which is surrounded by luscious green palm trees and succulents.
Sharon and boxer dog Dice now wander to the bottom of their garden and ‘escape’ but the venture has also ignited a passion for gardening in Chris.
Chris, of Wollaston, Northamptonshire, said: ‘We used to love our holidays but we have a big business and I work a lot.
‘The business suddenly took off and went a bit crazy and we’ve really been pushing it so we struggle to find the time now. We haven’t been able to go on holiday for about six years.
‘Our dog also suffers from little seizures now and then so we don’t like to leave him. We’re both housebound and office-bound.
‘So I decided, I would bring the holiday to us so we can enjoy. Now we can go to the bottom of the garden and escape in a tropical paradise.
‘We can come down here to our tiki hut and grab a cocktail or a latte and relax. You feel like you’re on the other side of the world. You’d never guess you’re at the bottom of a garden in the UK.
‘I want it to be a place where all our friends can come too if they’re having a bad day or feeling down. I want it to be a place where people can just get away.
‘I just love to do things that make people happy and put a smile on their faces. It has taken some time … but it’s all worth it as long as it makes us and other people smile.’
Chris researched which tropical plants could best withstand British weather and used online tutorial videos to learn all the tricks of the gardening trade.
With an ‘eye for detail’, years of construction and a helping hand from his mate Rob, Chris has really put his own ‘funky and different’ stamp on his garden.
Chris said: ‘I didn’t have any gardening experience at all before this – apart from keeping the odd cactus or venus fly trap on the window sill when I was younger.
‘But a couple of years ago I started an extension on our house and decided it was time to do the garden as well.
‘There’s a willow tree at the bottom of the garden that really inspired the jungle theme. The way the canopy hangs down made it feel a bit like a rainforest.
‘So I started looking into tropical gardening and all the things you could do even living in this country. It really got me. I was hooked.
‘I have dyslexia and I always struggled with things like school but when I find something I really enjoy, I put 100 percent into it and I do have a good eye for detail.
‘I have really enjoyed creating the garden. It’s given me such a passion for gardening. It can be very addictive.
‘And I like it because it’s never done, you can always come down here and keep tinkering at it. I love that. It’s so relaxing. It’s perfect for me.
‘So many friends have seen what I’ve done and they’ve never been into gardening before but now they’re starting to take it up. I love that I’ve shown people what you can achieve.’
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