Amid the thick ivy and deep undergrowth, there is no trace of the formal gardens that once stretched around the Koolunga house.
In addition to the colorful butterflies, it’s just as likely that you will spot an old push bike or a pile of brick rubble at the High Road site, Gorleston.
For new owner Paul Carter, this represents the kind of challenge he embraces, in keeping with his love of the outdoors.
The 45-year-old former soldier shares his vision after an offer to do work on the trees sparked anger and suspicion about his intentions, with one calling the proposal a “vile ecocide”.
He assures residents that they have “nothing to fear” from his property, saying he also loves the garden and only wants to make it usable.
And if he could not exclude in the long term asking for a home for himself from the developers, he was content to keep it as a garden to pass on to his children.
It comes after an offer to build on the site was rejected on appeal by a government planning inspector.
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He said healthy trees were smothered by ivy and many at the site were self-seeded.
His plan was to return it to a private garden, which would include planting an orchard, new trees, and possibly building a summer house.
“I just want to make it a safe space for us to enjoy,” he said.
“Where else can you get something like this? I just want to be genuine and transparent.”
The former soldier said he didn’t want to make enemies because of his plans and was shocked at the backlash.
He said he understood that this was a “sensitive” site and that there was a lot of affection for the space but careful work was needed to manage it.
There were also safety issues related to the pressure on the bulging wall and the passing buses.
Work on four of the trees was approved, two of which were completely dead and will be left as standing poles.
A new application has been made for a holm oak and an elm.
City council tree officer Graeme Watson said in his report that the site was of great value “as a green resource” and should be managed as such.
To consult the documents visit the borough council’s town planning portal via its website.