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Gardener inherits restored Japanese garden ... and the house

Grass Clippings - Gardener Inherits GardenFrom its simple exterior, it would be impossible to guess that behind the red brick walls of a rural cottage in the heart of Kent lies the finest example of a Japanese garden in Britain.

Even more astonishing is that the gardener who spent more than two decades working unpaid to help create the glorious landscape was given the property by its grateful owner. And last week, that devoted gardener's family had advertised it for sale for £1.6 million.

The story of this extraordinary labour of love began in the 1960s when Jean Handcock and her husband Michael took a day trip to look for a countryside hideaway to buy. But they lost their way in the quiet lanes of Kent and found themselves in the tiny village of Seal, near Sevenoaks.

There they knocked on the door of Lantern Cottage to ask for directions, and it was opened by Audrey Ede.

This chance encounter led to a 20-year friendship during which Mrs Handcock would lovingly care for Mrs Ede's sprawling Japanese garden and eventually inherit it in Mrs Ede's will.

Mrs Handcock is no longer alive but her husband has never forgotten the day that changed their lives.

'We knocked on the door and this lady answered who had obviously just put her lunch on,' said Mr Handcock, now 82.

Read More On The Daily Mail


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