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Walk Around The World In One Afternoon

The world garden at Lullingstone Castle - a garden conceived in the fetid heat of the jungle.

For anyone who doesn't know the story of the infamous 'plant hunter' - Tom Hart Dyke I will start with his story on how the idea for the World Garden came about.

In March 2000, Tom was kidnapped by the guerrillas while exploring the Colombian Jungle. He was held hostage for nine months and threatened with execution, during this ordeal Tom kept a jungle diary and began making plans for a garden that would contain plants collected from across the globe. This is where the seed of an idea was sown, then when Tom returned home to Lullingstone Castle one week before Christmas in 2000 the idea grew to become The World Garden of Plants - a garden which celebrates the 'plant hunter' and investigates the UK's richly diverse plant heritage.

Lullingstone Castle is home to the twentieth generation of the Hart Dyke family, nestled in the Darenth Valley with the River Darent running through it's grounds it creates the perfect setting for an exploration around the worlds flora.

The Gatehouse, built in 1497.

When you arrive at Lullingstone Castle you are met by an impressive Gatehouse, which overlooks a stunning 15-acre lake. From the entrance of the Gatehouse you follow a sweeping gravel drive down to the Manor House, both were built in 1497 and have been home to the same family ever since.

Looking back from the Manor to the Gatehouse, you have a beautiful panoramic view of the perfectly kept front lawn with the lake to your left and the Parish church to your right. St Botolph's Parish Church is of Norman origin, which contains some of the oldest stained glass windows in England.

From the main house you follow the drive around to the entrance of the World Garden through the 19th century Moon gate, this is where you follow in the footsteps of the plant hunters...

Here you are welcomed into Tom's world - The right way up! You start your trip around the globe in the UK and Ireland, ringed with red patriotic stone it is the best way to celebrate our native plant heritage. You then start your tour of the worlds plants, here are a few examples of what you will find on your travels;

The Dinosaur Tree (Wollemi Pine), the oldest tree in the world, is planted close to Ayers Rock (Uluru) in the Australian border.

The world's rarest Gum Tree, Eucalyptus morrisbyi, a graceful species that Tom collected in South East Tasmania in 1999, flowered for the first time at Lullingstone in 2009.

Penstemon ‘Crac’s Delight’, discovered by Tom in 1999 and named after his Granny, now blooms in Mexico.

There are countless other horticultural delights for visitors to see, smell and touch, including the stinky Dog Pooh plant (Hoodia gordonii) the world's most dangerous plant, the Queensland Stinger (Dendrocnide moroides) and the hottest chilli - Dorset naga. 

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