Pensioner transforms Hartlepool garden into Mediterranean vinery

Alan West
Alan West

A GREEN-FINGERED gardener has defied the experts to grow a burgeoning grapevine in his back garden.

Alan West, 66, has been able to beat the odds and grow the bulging plant at his home in Tristam Avenue, Hartlepool.

Alan, a retired private gardener and handyman, said: “They said on Gardeners World that you coudn’t grow good grapes anywhere north of the Humber, but mine has got over 100 bunches on it this year.”

Alan has been tending the grapevine for the last five years. But this is the first time he has seen such a bountiful return, although he is wary of hungry grape thieves.

“Last year I kept it down to just a few bunches, but then the blackbirds came down and demolished the lot.

“Hopefully this year the blackbirds will leave them alone, but if not I don’t mind feeding them, if the birds need it then they need it.”

If the grapes survive Alan intends to make wine with them at home, over 70 miles north of Leventhorpe Vineyard, near Leeds, Britain’s most northerly commercial vineyard.

The grapes are not Alan’s only project however, with a vegetable patch and greenhouse in the garden also filled with the potential for home-grown produce, including cucumbers and tomatoes.

And the lovely weather this summer has not only boosted the garden’s growth, but also turned it into a pleasant space for Alan and wife Patricia, 60, to enjoy the sun.

Alan said: “Sometimes it’s like being in the Mediterranean when you’re out there, it’s a really nice cosy little nook.”