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Lullingstone Castle near Eynsford bank holiday weekend Plant Hunters event

By Angela Cole

In a quiet country corner of Kent you'll find unusual plants from around the world, and this weekend you can meet plant hunters from through the ages.

Want to head around the world in 80 minutes?

Amid the lush, English gardens surrounding Lullingstone Castle, which even include a lake, you'll find plants from barren desert land, tropical paradises and chilly environments. Infact, young visitors will be able to spot penguins around the gardens, so some areas may be distinctly cool!

Lullingstone Castle's World Garden
Lullingstone Castle's World Garden

It was back in 2000 that plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke went in search of orchids in Colombia and was kidnapped, spending nine months in captivity.

His dream then was to create the garden which visitors see today, which became a reality in 2005 within the two-acre walled garden, containing some 8,000 plant species and hybrids.

Its climates are noticeable as you move around the garden, from the arid, dry land of the Australian section, to the humid tropical areas.

See around the world in plants at Lullingstone Castle's World Garden
See around the world in plants at Lullingstone Castle's World Garden

Besides the World Garden are other areas which younger visitors particularly will enjoy, including the stinky dog pooh plant inside the Hot and Spikey House and the world's most dangerous plant, which is kept within a cage for visitors' own good.

The Queensland Stinger is known to induce nine months of pain from just one touch - even one volunteer who touched a fallen leaf is known to have suffered.

There is also the miniature World Alpine Garden, and the National Collection of Eucalyptus, made up of 50 species, many of which were collected by Tom from Tasmania in 1999 - and he returned home safely.

THIS WEEKEND

This bank holiday weekend, Lullingstone Castle stages its popular Plant Hunters Weekend on Saturday, August 25 to Bank Holiday Monday.

Plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke leads the tour
Plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke leads the tour

Celebrating the lives of some of Britain’s most intrepid plant hunters, Tom Hart Dyke and friends in Victorian dress will lead a guided tour of the World Garden at 1.30pm and 3.30pm. You'll get a unique glimpse into the past to experience an authentic plant hunter’s expedition camp, complete with plant presses, roaring fire, porters and canvas tents.

Also at the castle for the weekend will be the Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) with animals including reptiles.

It will be open from 11am to 5pm, with entry £10 and under 15s going free.

For more information visit lullingstonecastle.co.uk

CLOSE BY

Visitors drive through Eynsford to reach the rural retreat that is Lullingstone. As you pass, there's something of a local oasis, an ancient ford outside the Plough Inn in Eynsford, where in the summer, children play in the water, as though they are at the beach.

You also pass through the Lullingstone Roman Villa, run by English Heritage, and enter the castle's impressive entrance alongside the many ramblers and walkers who head to the picturesque fields surrounding the castle's 120 acres.

A resident of the world garden
A resident of the world garden

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