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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 13:19 GMT
Christie's garden plan
Vinery at Greenway, Devon
Agatha Christie's vinery is to be restored
The National Trust wants European funding to help restore a garden owned by the crime writer Agatha Christie.

It hopes the work at Greenway, the author's summer retreat in south Devon, will create jobs in an area hit by redundancies.

Christie's daughter Rosalind Hicks still lives in the house on the River Dart.

She and her husband Anthony have given the garden to the trust.

Tourists will be able to walk in the gardens from 6 March 2002.

Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie spent summers in Devon
South Devon and Torbay have suffered severe job losses in the past year.

Paignton has seen about 4,000 posts cut by Nortel communications giant.

The trust is bidding for 250,000 from the European Objective Two fund, designed to bolster the economy of troubled regions.

It has already created nine jobs at Greenway, but area manager John Longworth-Krafft said the project would attract new visitors to the West Country, just as the Eden Project had done in Cornwall.

Jobs boost

He said: "It is a new heritage tourism opportunity.

"It used to be private and closed, but now we expect to have 30,000-40,000 visitors a year.

"We know they will bring money and jobs."

Greenway gardens
The writer's daughter has maintained the gardens
Cars will be restricted, but visitors may be able to arrive by boat or even steam train.

The Dart Valley Railway passes through a tunnel under the estate.

The trust says European funding could help establish a ferry service.

The estate is five miles upstream from the historic naval port of Dartmouth.

The restoration of the 30-acre garden includes the creation of a visitor centre and cafe in old stone barns.

Magnolia trees

The peach house and vinery buildings both need repair.

Mr and Mrs Hicks are said to have maintained the garden to a high standard, adding their own influences.

They include a fernery, magnolia trees, a hydrangea walk and palms.

River view from Greenway garden
Ferry services are planned on the River Dart
But Christie fans will find little to recall the author's life.

"She used it as a holiday home and a place to relax away from work in London," said Mr Longworth Krafft.

"I think she liked the gardens, but I don't she she would claim she was a gardener, unlike Mrs Hicks and her husband.

"They were the last in a long line of gardeners who have owned the property.

"There is an Agatha Christie connection, but we don't want to play it up because of sensitivity to the family.

"It was an extremely generous gift, entirely altruistic with no tax breaks involved."

Click here to go to Devon
See also:

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Mousetrap enters 50th year
08 Nov 01 | Arts
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17 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Audiences captivated by Mousetrap
16 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Why the mouse still roars
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