A cheeky gardener went viral for cutting his bush into a middle-finger but now wants to burn it after branding the hedge a complete “pain in the backside”.
Richard Jackson, 64, once proudly displayed his 10 foot rude topiary in front of his garden and became a social media star for doing so.
When he first cut it – 20 years ago – it was only a joke for drinkers who teased him while he trimmed the hedges at a pub opposite his home in the village of Warton, Warwickshire.
Since then, the middle-finger bush has attracted hundreds of visitors – with Instagram and TikTok fans becoming desperate to feature it on their profiles.
Despite its popularity however, Richard – who has two grown-up children and four grandchildren – has now revealed his plans to destroy the hedge.
He has been left fed up with the maintenance – which needs trimming four times a year.
Branding the 10ft sculpture a “pain in the backside” to maintain, he said:
“I’m fed up with it, to be honest with you. I’m going to dig it up or burn it. People love it but I’ve had enough of it.
“It’s just a pain in the backside to keep it in shape. It’s like me – old and in bad shape.”
He went on to say that the hedge’s time is now up, saying: “It’s not a statue – it grows and it’s harder and harder to keep it in shape. It’s too much trouble now.
“We still have folks come up to take photos but it’s past its prime.”
The hedge was first erected by Richard as a prank, after getting stick from locals from The Office Pub opposite his home.
Richard explained why he carved it, saying: “It all started years ago as a bit of a laugh with the locals in the nearby pub.
“I used to do the hedges over there and they’d give me a bit of a tease when they came out. One day I thought I’d get my own back so cut the hedge into a giant middle finger.
“The pub locals thought it was hilarious and it just went from there. It became a permanent fixture in the village.”
However, since the hedge was born, adamant villagers have vowed to fight and keep it up – claiming it has now become “part of village folklore”.
Back in 2012, Richard was left stunned when council chiefs ordered him to cut it down.
An annoyed neighbour complained about the “obscene” hedge, and Warwickshire County Council threatened him with legal action.
An officer from Warwickshire Police was even sent to investigate the row after Richard refused to cut it down.
But in the decade since its creation, many locals have fallen in love with the hedge and rallied round Richard, even launching a “Save the Warton Bush” campaign.
Revealing his shock when he received the letter through the post, Richard said: “Everything was fine until I got a letter from the council saying someone had complained, saying the hedge was obscene.
“I was told I’d have to cut it down or modify it so it didn’t look rude anymore. I refused so they got the police involved.
“A policeman came out and said if they received any more complaints then I’d be instantly fined.”
He went on to say that the officer even gave him the idea of turning the hedge into something different, saying: “He even suggested I turn it into a fist but I told him no way.
“I still didn’t do anything about the hedge apart from let it grow out a bit. It was all for a laugh.”
Once again, villagers have expressed their dismay at the prospect of losing the rude hedge.
Some have gone on to vow that they will resurrect their campaign and launch another “Save the Warton Bush” crusade.
Speaking about what the hedge means to them, one local said: “The bush is now a part of village folklore and must be kept for future generations to enjoy.
“I think most people would pitch in to keep it well maintained. It’s become a symbol of defiance against the system and most people here would urge Richard to keep it.
“There are already murmurings of relaunching the ‘Save the Warton Bush’ campaign to ensure it stays put.”
Warwickshire Police confirmed an officer was sent to investigate although they had not received a direct complaint.