Dad spends over 30 years turning his garden into a glorious jungle paradise

A dad of three has helped his garden grow into a literal jungle, with over 100 species of plants, including 25-foot palm trees.

Dr Simon Olpin has loved nature since he was child, but his terrible fear of flying meant he’s never been able to travel the world and see any jungles.

So the consultant clinical biochemist decided to bring one a little closer to home – and thanks to his garden’s ample shade, it happens to be the perfect place to cool off in the ongoing heatwave.

Since Dr Simon planted his first tree from a ‘small pot’ back in 1987, his suburban garden in Sheffield, South Yorkshire has been transformed into an 8,000-square-foot tropical paradise.

He said: ‘It’s lovely to be in the garden on a nice sunny day as it feels calm, warm and tropical – but it’s not blisteringly hot

‘When you move out into the sun on a very hot day, you immediately notice the difference – and it can become unbearable.

‘We’re able to sit in the cool shade and have wine or tea with friends. It has a South-East Asian tropical atmosphere.’

Simon moved to the home in Yorkshire from Cambridge in 1987, when his garden was a ‘blank canvas’ that needed a lot of ‘trial and error’ to get right.

The dad said: ‘I’ve always been interested in animals particularly when I was a little child. I was fascinated by everything that crept and crawled.

‘When we moved to Sheffield I started to develop a more keen interest in exotic plants, and we had a small garden which was a blank canvas.

‘Over 35 years I’ve managed to bring a place like Bhutan or a bit of Southeast Asia to my garden in Yorkshire – it’s brilliant, to me at least.

‘I’m afraid of flying and will never get to visit these fascinating places, so I’ve brought a bit of them back to my home in Sheffield of all places.’

Dr Simon’s garden currently has roughly 25 species of bamboo, three species of palm, four species of eucalyptus, and hundreds of other trees, shrubs, and plants.

He’s built in a small winding path that leads to a thatched hut he constructed under two huge 32-year-old eucalyptus trees that measure up to 85ft.

He said: ‘It’s many people’s worst nightmare, they’d be horrified. It’s full of bamboo and you have to wind your way through it. But it’s natural.

‘You do need good neighbours, as I have massive tall trees that sprawl 45ft.

‘It’s supposed to be a jungle, and it looks like a jungle. That’s the way I want it.’

Thanks to their wild back garden, Dr Simon’s children have grown up with a love of adventure.

Most of the taller trees are older than his children, Jay, 22, Lily, 28, and Holly, 30, who grew up believing that tigers walked the garden path and that fairies left them letters written on tree paper.

Dr Simon added: ‘The garden was a magical place for my entire family. Walking through it is a bit of an adventure.

‘The trees have actually watched my children grow up. It’s older than all of my children.’

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