Just like on any gardening reality show, while home owner Melanie Kreft was spending the weekend shopping in Dunedin with her sister, back in Balclutha her many friends had secretly undertaken a surprise garden makeover for her.
“I was really shocked when I drove up to my house on the Sunday and started to notice odd things had happened to my garden,” she said.
“Initially I was a little concerned because my daughter had been ringing me constantly asking what time I would be back home.
I thought she had hosted a party overnight and was desperately trying to tidy up before I got back, but was I in for a surprise.”
She said she had noticed a new tree planted in her garden and then all the people who had hidden there jumped out, startling her.
“Now that it has settled in, I’m pretty elated about it all, I can really enjoy my garden, it was such a kind thing for my friends to do,” Ms Kreft said.
An administrative support worker at Clutha Health First, and a recent widow, Ms Kreft had won a garden makeover prize at Christmas time from Heidi Stephens Garden Design but the lockdown delayed the planned start of the renovation work.
Mrs Stephens said because they they had to wait so long to start the project they decided to surprise her.
Then a mutual friend, Amanda Hyslop, heard about the project and decided to help by organising a FaceBook group of people to come along and assist.
With the help of family Ms Kreft was encouraged to spend the weekend in Dunedin, while back at her home, once the coast was clear, more than 20 people worked away removing large flax bushes, stones and gravel, and clearing out a lot of garden debris before starting to replant and beautify the garden.
“There were so many people who just came along and chipped in,” Mrs Stephens said.
“They came with trucks, diggers, shovels and lots of food and drink.
‘‘It was a freezing cold weekend but nobody complained.”
Ms Kreft was very grateful for all the work her friends did.
“Even now I find myself still walking around looking at what they have done.
‘‘My garden had been a never› ending battle and was fast becoming a hassle to look after but now I have a wonderful new garden to enjoy,” she said.