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Thursday, 24 July 2014

Stowaway threatens to wreck World Cup dream

A SLIMY stowaway could cost a celebrity hotelier thousands of pounds and a World Cup dream.

By Katie Robinson

A snail that snuck into a container heading for Japan caused havoc for Jonathan Denby when it was discovered at customs in Hakata, Fukuoka.

The container was full of Cumbrian slate and limestone set to appear in a show garden for next week’s Gardening World Cup.

But it will now be shipped straight back to the UK after the snail was discovered and Japanese authorities would not let the shipment into the country.

Grange-based hotelier and show garden designer Mr Denby attempted to fight quarantine regulations to allow him to take the stone, plus some specially-selected artefacts, to the show to install in his Peter Rabbit-inspired garden.

But he is now left without major components to his garden.

As well as the slate and limestone, an antique wheelbarrow, a Georgian water pump – identical to the one at Beatrix Potter’s former home at Hill Top – old tools, a garden gate, a beehive and an Edwardian postbox, will all be returned to the UK without featuring in the show.

The cost of the items plus the shipping costs will reach almost £16,000.

Mr Denby said: “This has been a pretty awful day. It’s quite obvious that they aren’t willing to go the extra mile to get my stuff out and are going to send everything back to England.

“The Japanese adore the Lake District and I wanted to show the visitors to the Gardening World Cup what a real Lake District cottage garden would look like. I’m bitterly disappointed that this wretched snail has taken away a lot of the true authenticity of my garden.

“I’m having to replace the Lakeland slate walls with a wooden fence and the limestone paths with grass. It will still look good and I’m sure the Japanese will adore it with Peter Rabbit there, but that snail has a lot to answer for.

“Although I’m not really in the mood for humour now I can see the irony in the champion of the Slow Life being laid low by a snail.”

The show is in Huis Ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan, with judging due to take place next Saturday.

Mr Denby won a bronze medal at the show last year, competing against world-class designers such as Andy Sturgeon, Jim Fogarty and Nico Wissing.

The theme of the show is world peace in honour of the victims of the tsunami disaster earlier this year – but the creation of Mr Denby’s garden has been all but peaceful.

While digging foundations for his feature cottage workers struck a mains water pipe, cutting off water to the entire theme park – and last year’s show wasn’t without drama either.

Mr Denby said: “Last year my stained glass windows were held up in customs, and we only got them at midnight on the day of judging.

“I'm not looking forward to reaching the same levels of stress this year.”

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