TOM HART DYKE
Plant hunter and gardener with passion
Come and hear his exciting tales of……
Growing up at Lullingstone Castle
Kidnap in the Columbian jungle
The making of a ‘world garden’ at Lullingstone Castle
Cressing Temple Wheat Barn
Ticket price £12
More about Tom Hart-Dyke:
Tom Hart Dyke first shot to international prominence in the year 2000, when he was kidnapped in the Colombian jungle on a plant hunting expedition that went dangerously wrong.
Tom and his travelling companion, Paul Winder, were kidnapped while trekking through ‘The Darien Gap’, a dangerous place abandoned by all to warring guerrilla factions. Tom and Paul were kidnapped on Tom’s sister’s birthday 16th March 2000 and were held for nine months and released on 16th December 2000. During the nine month ordeal The British Embassy gave the boys up for dead, but Tom and Paul’s parents never gave up hope.
After Tom’s return home to his ancestral home of Lullingstone Castle, near Sevenoaks, in Kent, Tom and Paul (Winder) penned the best selling book The Cloud Garden (Transworld 2002) detailing their experiences in the jungle. Tom’s jungle antics – building gardens in the mountains, much to the annoyance of his captors – cemented his reputation as a ‘plant nut’. Later Tom wrote another book – ‘An Englishman’s Home’ – detailing the trials and tribulations of developing the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle.
In 2001 Tom travelled to South East Asia with KEO films to make A Dangerous Obsession (Channel 4, summer 2002) – the story of Tom’s search for an orchid to name after his beloved Gran Mary Hart Dyke (nicknamed ‘Crac’ by Tom). Tom’s search for an unnamed species was fruitless but the subsequent programme brought him to the attention of many. Kathryn Flett from the Observer named him ‘the new David Bellamy’ for his enthusiasm for his beloved subject – ‘orchids’.
2000-2007 Saving Lullingstone Castle & Return to Lullingstone Castle (KEO films for BBC2)-The story of the creation of The World Garden:
The idea for The World Garden was born in the depths of despair in the Colombian jungle. Midday on June 16th 2000, three months into their kidnap ordeal, Tom and his fellow captive Paul Winder, were told to prepare to die that night. Paul spent the afternoon of that fateful day in prayer, but Tom decided that the best course of action would be to spend his final day on Earth designing his dream garden! He spent the day drawing plans, in his diary, for a World Garden – containing the plants he’d collected from across the globe, planted out in their respective countries of origin.
Luckily for Tom, Paul and their families, the boys were not executed, but were released in time for Christmas 2000.
Since his release from captivity, Tom has been busy building the ‘World’ in his back garden at Lullingstone Castle. Under the watchful eye of KEO Films/BBC, the man, known locally as ‘the Plant Nut’, has been filmed commandeering his Granny’s 18th Century Walled Garden, within the grounds of the Castle, to create his jungle dream.
Every stage of Tom’s jungle project has been filmed for the 12 part BBC2 series saving Lullingstone & Return to Lullingstone. The garden opened to the public in March 2005 and has seen a steady stream of visitors entering through the 18th century moon gate, and traversing the pathways (or seas) as they literally walk around the ‘ world in under 80 minutes’.
Tom’s garden won the prestigious British Guild of Travel Writers UK Tourism Award 2005.