The elephant of Cookswood Road

Topiary elephant
Topiary elephant

The elephant of Cooks Wood Road

Story & photo:Helen Brown

Venturing down Cooks Wood Road you may be surprised to see a beautiful little elephant peering down at you from atop a hedge – in the form of a very statuesque topiary.

The elephant was created by Mary Wadeson, who teaches at Oak Tree High School in Burngreave. In her spare time she is a very enthusiastic gardener, and is adept at growing not only hedges but fruit trees, a vegetable patch and a lovely self-dug pond that attracts the attention of frogs and wildlife.

Mary says that her elephant, named Nelly, took about five years to grow, beginning with the four legs, which took around a year. After that came the elephant’s back, at which stage she said it looked very odd – like a snake with legs! Eventually she could grow the head and tail, and by the fifth year she could make the ears and trim the head.

Mary says, when asked why she chose the elephant in particular: “I adore elephants… I’m a feminist and I love the fact that the women are the matriarchs of the herd, and can kick the men out!” Mary goes on to explain that should she have to cut it down for safety reasons as it is hard to reach to trim. She will still have an overwhelming presence of elephants in her garden as she is in the process of incorporating her own hand-made ceramic tiles featuring images of elephants into her drive; “So I will have elephants marching up my driveway!”

Though Mary admits that it would be a shame to cut Nelly down. She is known up and down the street as the ‘elephant lady’ and receives Christmas cards addressed to the ‘Elephant House’.

She still has fond memories of when the Tour de France passed down her road, as she had painted a yellow jersey on Nelly’s back and you can still see a trace of paint on her legs!

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The content on this page was added to the website by Graham Jones on 2015-10-06 17:18:05.
The content of the page was last modified by Alice Kirby on 2016-10-12 17:40:42.

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