A GREEN-FINGERED pensioner who has won awards for her stunning garden says she was left in shock after a complete stranger ripped up her pride-and-joy plants in front of her eyes.

Jenny Riley, 77, of Lavender Cottage, King Street, Maldon, has a small garden that is filled with vibrant purple lavender – the inspiration for the name of her home.

Her beautiful flowers have previously helped her win two Maldon In Bloom awards and she often opens her garden up to members of the public.

Following a recent second knee replacement, however, Mrs Riley has been unable to tend her garden as much as she would like and admits the lavender had become slightly overgrown.

But despite it not blocking the footpath and being tied back until she is well enough to trim the plants, a stranger decided to tear up the lavender.

Mrs Riley said said: “I was devastated when this unknown, horrible man with a baby started to rip out the lavender, breaking it from the root, before just throwing it into the garden.

“I went to the door and explained my position, that I was on crutches, but he just sneered and said, ‘I’m doing it for you’.

“I threatened him with the police and screamed and shouted my head off, but no-one came to help me, so I asked him if it made him feel good upsetting a 77-year-old lady on crutches, but he didn’t care.”

Mrs Riley broke down after the incident.

She said she didn’t understand why anyone would do something so horrible to the garden she takes such pride in and which has become an attraction in the community.

Thankfully, a generous couple were on hand to help her tidy up – filling three bin bags with damaged flowers.

Mrs Riley added: “He was a nasty piece of work and he really did upset me.

“After he had gone, I was standing on the footpath in tears, but then I went out to the pavement and a lovely young couple came and cleared it all up for me and really helped me out.

“If it wasn’t for them, I would have lost all faith in humanity.”