Upset in Garden of Eden as Malmesbury's Naked Gardeners to divorce
Not all is well in the Garden of Eden for Malmesbury’s naked gardeners Ian and Barbara Pollard after she asked him for a divorce and accused him of being a womanising alcoholic.
Now Abbey House Gardens is up for sale and the future of the 20 peole employed or acting as volunteers in the gardens, that have become a tourist attraction for people from all over the world, is uncertain.
The couple opened the gardens 20 years ago but only married five years ago. They put the gardens on the tourist map by holding clothes optional days and were often pictured wearing little but wellie boots.
Mr Pollard, 68, who strenuously denies being a womaniser or an alcholic, said: “The long and short of it is that Eve is leaving the Garden of Eden.
"Quite simply my wife is divorcing me, which has resulted in the putting of the house and the gardens on the market.
"It is a real shame and I am very sad and angry about it. I'm a very hurt individual."
Mr Pollard said they had made a go at their marriage until last July when his wife went to a ‘family healing’ course at Glastonbury. When she returned she left her husband and three children aged 18, 22 and 27.
He said: "To call me a womaniser is ludicrous. Also an alcoholic - I like drinking like 80 or 90 per cent of the country. Her idea is that you shouldn't drink at all, you should abstain from alcohol completely.”
In a statement, Mrs Pollard said: "All I can say is that Ian and I are very different people but with common interests.
"We have brought different skills to the development of Abbey House and its gardens, which it has been a privilege to participate in.
"However I am not getting any younger, I will not last forever and I believe it is time to let someone else create a new chapter here.
"I wish to continue my interest in gardening, approach it in a different way and grow food among the flowers."
The couple have often spoken of creating their own Garden of Eden in Malmesbury.
They were labelled the naked gardeners when they appeared on the BBC show Gardeners’ World and opened their gardens to naturists.
Malmesbury mayor Sue Poole said: “Abbey House Gardens are very important to the town and has brought in a lot of people to Malmesbury. It has put the town on the map.
"People come to the tourist information centre and the town hall and ask 'where are the Naked Gardeners?'
"It will be a very sad loss to Malmesbury."
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