Elaine Rolfe told to clear garden at Llanover Estate or face huge bill
A MUM-OF-EIGHT who spent around £20,000 on creating a spectacular garden at her former home is faced with tearing its plants up, as her husband lies terminally ill.
While Elaine Rolfe, 50, was a tenant at Ochran Mill, on the Llanover Estate, she ploughed all her time and energy into the project, which featured in national newspapers and on TV.
But due to her husband David's ailing health from cancer, he had to give up work and the family downsized their property, leaving the treasured garden behind.
More than a month on and Mrs Rolfe, who says her husband has just days to live, has been told she must remove the plants or pay a clearance bill of up to £5,000.
This is because the landlord says the garden is too high maintenance for a new tenant to handle.
Today, Mrs Rolfe had people, including representatives from Bristol Zoo and gardening clubs, digging up the plants, sourced from specialist nurseries across the UK.
Mrs Rolfe, who is on benefits, said: "If I had the time I would do it myself, but my husband is so ill I can't leave him. It's upsetting they are trying to charge me, it's very stressful for our whole family.
"It has been a bit of a nightmare, we didn't want to move. I would like the plants to go to a good home."
The couple's daughter Jennifer, 24, said: "We have great memories of the garden from growing up. It's a lot of upkeep but it's amazing and I'd like to see it preserved."
Mr Rolfe, who hosted the Welsh Classic Pinball Open in Ochran Mill in 2010, fell ill with cancer in June last year.
At the time of the contest, the Argus reported how the hobby for the ex-web designer saw him ranked number 40 in the UK's list of top pinball wizards.
James Perks, resident land agent for the Llanover Estate, confirmed the approximate cost to clear the "overgrown" garden and put gravel down would be £5,000.
He said when Mrs Rolfe has removed what she can, the cost will be reevaluated.
He defended the landlord's timing of the garden work, given Mr Rolfe's deteriorating condition.
"If someone creates something extraordinary it's not going to be sustainable once they have left. We have tried to be as sympathetic as we can and to give Mrs Rolfe more time but we have to get it (the home) ready for another tenant. It has become a real wilderness and we can't leave the property empty for months," said Mr Perks.
"It's a shame the garden is going. The estate has very much admired what she has done there, but the scale is quite beyond what a normal occupier can manage," he added.