A green-fingered Larne woman has single-handedly transformed a corner of Mill Brae into a floral paradise, to the delight of the community.
Ann Magee began her crusade to refresh the formerly uninspiring grass verge and neighbouring paved ‘circle’ area in April, and the sites are already brimming with blooms.
Keen gardener Ann, who lives near the site, says that the work has allowed her to express her creativity for the benefit of the whole community.
“I have lived at Mill Brae for 22 years and there was just a summer seat and grass so I started planting flowers there as I could see its potential,” Ann explained.
“It started to look nice so I took flowers out of my back garden and put in a few wee trees, then people started saying I had made a quare job and that spurred me on!
“I added ornaments, fairy lights, a couple of paving stones and I went to the council and Hannah’s nursery and they gave me flowers.
“I think it really brightens up the area and it makes me so happy when I see people go past and smile as they see it.”
Ann revealed that her work to brighten up Mill Brae has also played a therapeutic role by helping her cope with the deaths of her two beloved sons David and Paul and her husband Jim.
“This has given me confidence and something to focus on,” she explained.
“Every day I get up and tend to it, I weed it and keep it tidy.
“I take pride in it and I get a sense of achievement from it.
“I took two memory trees from my sons’ graves and replanted them at Mill Brae and put fairy lights on them, and it gives me comfort to know that they are nearby.
“It really means a lot to me and I feel that they are watching over me.
“I feel that part of Paul and David comes out of me when I’m gardening, they would be smiling and saying: ‘Mum keep at it!’
“It’s their legacy through me.”
In addition to self-funding most of the Mill Brae project, Ann has also turned her attention to the nearby Church Way, from which she says she removed 11 bin bags full of rubbish in one day.
“It has created a nicer atmosphere in the area,” Ann continued.
“As people turn the corner in their cars all they see is flowers, and I think it has changed the character of the area for the better.
“I have a real pride in Larne, I am originally from Tyrone but I came here when I married and I love it here, I would never leave.
“I think it would be nice if people were encouraged to adopt wee junctions in the town and other spaces like that, it would foster pride in the community.”
Sitting amidst a sea of brightly-coloured French begonias, Ann revealed that she has big plans for the future of her little corner of Mill Brae, and is already thinking ahead to winter time.
“I’m thinking more flowers and hanging baskets as well as solar lights,” Ann laughed.
“I would also like to put a big planter full of flowers on the green opposite my house.
“I’m not going to stop, I’ll keep going and I hope it looks nice come Christmas time-it’s my pride and joy!”