A SINGLE mother with five youngsters has won the hearts of gardening enthusiasts - despite squatting in a garden centre.

Customers and staff at Dobbies Garden World, inBirtley, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham, were delighted when a blackbird's eggs hatched in the centre. The bird, which appears to have no male to help her, was accidentally wheeled into the centre on a plant trolley with a nest full of eggs last month.

Staff and customers took the bird to their hearts and could not believe the chicks' sense of timing when they hatched on Golden Jubilee Day last Monday. Now, the staff have surrounded the nest with hundreds of coleus canina plants, which are thought to deter cats.

"We're all really hoping they do well," said store manager Paul Travis-Anderson.

"The customers love them and are giving us advice on how we can help."