Garden grief

Row over gold-plated path sees labour of love ripped out

NINETY-two-year-old Eileen Taylor watched heartbroken as her award-winning garden was torn out last week.

The Vincentia resident had her garden removed after complaints brought about by a controversial proposal to build a walkway through the Orion Beach reserve.  

The 500m section of the Round The Bay walk has stirred plenty of emotion and controversy.

The issue has put the spotlight on the previously untouched and little known beachfront reserve fronted by a number of houses.

Gardening has been Mrs Taylor’s passion and since the 1990s she has tended a garden in front of her house on a council-owned foreshore reserve.

She had floral displays, archways and plantings of all types.

In fact the garden won first place in the Shoalhaven Spring Festival Garden Competition more than once, was the South Coast zone runner up in the Garden Club of Australia National Awards and was featured in numerous magazines.

Last weekend Mrs Taylor’s family members travelled from around the country to spend four days tearing out her beloved garden.

Letters of complaint from nearby residents and unfavourable mentions in a council meeting worried Mrs Taylor so much she decided to destroy her garden.

“It broke my heart to watch my children pulling my garden out.

“That garden was everything to me and I hated taking it out.

“I’ve worked for many years with council approval, nothing in writing mind you. But those certificates prove they were happy with it.

“They always said it was fine as long as there was a way in and a way out of the garden.

“Every other council has congratulated me on how magnificent the garden was.”

Mrs Taylor has lived at Orion Beach for 33 years and has no problem with a footpath going through the area.

Until five years ago the vacant block next to her home was used as an unofficial access route to the beach.

Many of those people walked through the garden she created on the reserve.

Early plans for the small section of footpath along a steep section of the dune above Orion Beach will cost more than $1 million.

“People walking through here to get down to the beach never bothered me, I never worried about it,” she said.

“I’ve got no objection to a path along here either. People like to be near the water – that’s the whole idea although I think it might be better if it was further down the hill and closer to the water.”

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