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Dad spends 30 years transforming back garden into jungle with 100ft tall palm trees

A dad has spent the last 30 years transforming his back garden into an incredible ‘jungle’ with 100 foot tall palm trees.

Dr Simon Olpin, 69, who is passionate about nature but has never travelled due to his fear of flying, has brought the jungle to his suburban garden in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

The green-fingered fanatic planted his first tree from a ‘small pot’ back in 1987 after moving into the detached house from Cambridge.

Since then the 8,000 square foot ‘jungle’ has grown to have more than 100 species of plants, with massive 100 foot palm trees which tower over the sprawling garden.

Simon said the garden was a ‘blank canvas’ which required a lot of ‘trial and error’.

The jungle garden of Dr. Simon Olpin, 69, in Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Dr. Simon Olpin has devoted the last three decades transforming the 8,000 square foot back garden of his detached house into an incredible ‘jungle’ with 100 foot tall palm trees

The clinical biochemist said he couldn’t even put a number on the amount of hours or money he has spent perfecting his project over the last three decades.

Dr Olpin 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.

Dr Simon Olpin built a thatched shed under two 30 year-old eucalyptus trees in his garden

“Over 30 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.”

Simon, who has a fear of flying, has brought the jungle to his suburban garden in Sheffield, South Yorks

Dr Olpin’s passion for plants and wildlife started when he was a child, but his love of the exotic came from a visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.

His first tree was an 18-inch Chinese windmill plant which he purchased from a university sale in 1987 – which now towers more than 100 feet over his house.

Google satellite view of the jungle garden

Dr Olpin’s ‘jungle’ has featured more than 30 species of bamboo, three species of palm, four species of eucalyptus, and hundreds of other trees, shrubs, and plants.

He has created a small winding path to navigate through to a thatched hut which he built under two massive 32-year-old eucalyptus trees.

He added that his garden is many people’s ‘worst nightmare’ but said it’s exactly the way he wants it.

He said: “It’s many people’s worst nightmare, they’d be horrified. it’s full of bamboos 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 100 foot.

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

The father-of-three said his family have grown up loving the adventure which came from having a jungle in the back garden.

Most of the taller trees are older than his three children, Jay, 21, Lily, 25, and Holly, 28, who grew up believing tigers roamed their garden and that fairies left them letters penned on tree paper.

Dr Olpin 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.”

While has devoted an immeasurable amount of time and money to his garden over the last three decades, he said his main job now is just to keep it tidy and maintained.



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