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

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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.”

Pic­ture: PA Photo/Bill Od­die/Reed New Hol­land

Bill Od­die in his Hamp­stead gar­den

Pic­ture: PA Photo/Han­nah Stephen­son

A ‘go­rilla’ in Bill Od­die’s gar­den

Pic­ture: PA Photo/Bill Od­die/Reed New Hol­land

Bill Od­die’s gar­den

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