It started as one man's joke to get back at the local pub's boozers who teased him about his bush trimming.

But 20 years later, Richard Jenkins was ordered to chop down his perfectly pruned, slightly naughty hedge after a complaint from a killjoy resident, who failed to see the funny side, branding it "obscene".

He promptly told council bosses that he'd be doing nothing of the sort, though, after his cheeky work of art had been attracting attention for two decades, becoming a viral sensation online.

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Today, it continues to offer a firm response to anyone who says it needs to go.

The 10ft bush in question has been trimmed into a raised middle finger.

Initially, it was designed by green-fingered mischief maker Richard to send a message pub regulars who taunted him as he cut the hedges in his garden, opposite the village boozer in Warton, Warwickshire.

In recent years it's even proved something of a tourist attraction, drawing people who just want a picture of it to post on their Instagram or TikTok profiles.

Legend has it one local lad even has the topiary as his screensaver on his phone.

Richard, a dad-of-two, said: "It all started years ago as a bit of a laugh with the locals in the nearby pub,” the dad of two previously said. “I used to do the hedges over there and they’d give me a bit of a tease when they came out.

“One day I thought I’d get my own back so cut the hedge into a giant middle finger.

“The pub locals thought it was hilarious and it just went from there. It became a permanent fixture in the village.”

Sadly, not everyone is quite so amused by the bush.

Grandad-of-four Richard was stunned when Warwickshire County Council wrote to him, telling him there had been a complaint. He said they told him to cut it down and even threatened legal action.

A local police officer is also said to have suggested that he cut the hedge into a fist instead.

Richard continued: “Everything was fine until I got a letter from the council saying someone had complained, saying the hedge was obscene.

“I was told I’d have to cut it down or modify it so it didn’t look rude any more. I refused so they got the police involved.

“A policeman came out and said if they received any more complaints then I’d be instantly fined.

“He even suggested I turn it into a fist but I told him no way.

“I still didn’t do anything about the hedge apart from let it grow out a bit but there’s no way I’d chop it down.

“It was all for a laugh.”

Despite being threatened with legal action, Richard has been defiant about keeping the bush and said other residents had rallied behind him to make sure it stays.

A campaign, Save the Warton Bush, was launched in support of Richard's hedge.

"Many people quite like it, often you see people stopping in their cars, getting out and having a picture with it,” Richard added.

"One local lad even has it as his screensaver on his phone.

"I have had it up for nearly 20 years now, it is staying."

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