Gorillas, skulls and gnomes in Oddie’s space of oddities
Birdwatcher Bill Oddie gives Hannah Stephenson a tour of his garden full of weird and wacky memorabilia. It features buddhas, glitterballs, skulls and fake turtle doves – there’s a surprise around every corner in Oddie’s garden in leafy Hampstead, north-w
Tales Of A Ludicrous Bird Gardener by Bill Oddie is published in hardback by Reed New Holland, priced £16.99. Available now. An avid birdwatcher and conservationist, Bill Oddie is a former Springwatch presenter and star of Seventies comedy series The Goodies. He admits his outdoor haven, the size of half a tennis court, is a space his wife describes as ‘ludicrous’.
The plot is now highlighted in his latest book, Tales Of A Ludicrous Bird Gardener.
“I had nothing to do with gardens for a long time. When we moved here 25 years ago, there was a lawn and that was it. We labelled certain corners, the inspiration being Disney World. The main point is to keep me amused. I cannot go through a day without having at least an hour in the garden.”
His stash of unusual knick-knacks includes a resin gorilla, fake spiders, a clutch of model animals and birds, a Borneo corner and about 100 gnomes of all shapes and sizes.
The planting, too, is as random as the riot of fake dinosaurs, birds and themes. It features an experimental area, where he plants random herbs and wild flowers, a large pink mallow sitting in front of a yellow hypericum (rose of Sharon) and an assortment of trees. A palm and a willow rub shoulders, a self-seeded sycamore flourishes, while birds shelter in a horse chestnut and a silver birch.
Oddly-shaped old tree branches, which he has picked up from Hampstead Heath, serve as perches and hideaways for some of his green-fingered objets d’art.
He’s created a spooky corner and says: “I haven’t the faintest idea how that came about. Everything has to be sprayed white. There are two skulls on juju sticks, which my daughter brought back from a music festival and are traditionally used in black magic rituals.”
And there are an awful lots of gnomes. Oddie says: “I have nearly 100 gnomes. I remember going to Chelsea Flower Show one year and someone asked me what I thought of it. I said, ‘Not enough gnomes’. When we got married, we were going to have a party here and we said to the guests, ‘We don’t want any normal presents. Please just bring a gnome.’ Some of them couldn’t bring themselves to do it, but most people did.”
Bill Oddie in his Hampstead garden
A ‘gorilla’ in Bill Oddie’s garden
Bill Oddie’s garden