A father of three spent the last 30 years transforming his 8,000 square foot surburban Yorkshire back garden into an incredible ‘jungle’ with 100 foot tall palm trees.
Dr Simon Olpin, 69, has been passionate about nature since he was a child but due to his fear of flying he has never been able to travel the world and see any jungles.
But the clinical biochemist has brought the jungle to his suburban garden in Sheffield, South Yorks., after planting his first tree from a ‘small pot’ back in 1987.
Since then, his ‘jungle’ has grown to have more than 100 species of plants, with massive 100 foot palm trees which tower over the sprawling garden.
When Simon moved to the home in Yorkshire from Cambridge in 1987 he said the garden was a ‘blank canvas’ which required a lot of ‘trial and error’.
The green-fingered fanatic 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.
The father of three 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 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.’
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.
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.’
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.