A PENSIONER has been left devastated after housing chiefs dug up her award-winning flower display following complaints from neighbours that it gave them sniffles.

Workmen paid a visit to Julia Mason’s home in Barnards Close, Malvern, and hacked up her display of golden rod flowers.

The plants, which were judged the best in town by Malvern in Bloom experts, were turfed over while the 65- year-old was at a hospital appointment.

She never had any problems with the display until two years ago, when she said Barnleigh Housing Association contacted her after receiving a complaint about the amount of pollen the flowers produced. “There was a lot of fuss over it but this September a committee said that I could keep the flowers,” she said.

She received another letter last month telling her the flowers would have to be dug up.

She said she would not and was devastated when she returned from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham last week to find the flowers had been removed.

“I’ve kept that garden for 23 years and I take a lot of pride in it,” she said. “I was absolutely devastated – I was so upset I just sat and cried.”

The display was 10ft by 1ft, and Mrs Mason said she managed to create it despite suffering lung problems and needing a lung operation.

Housing bosses defended the move, saying it was dug up following legitimate concerns.

Pollen can be a big concern for allergy sufferers, especially during the spring. It can heighten hay fever symptoms, including sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes.

Stuart Wollaston, chairman of Barnleigh Housing Association, said: “As far as the association is concerned we feel that we have taken the appropriate action.