Lullingstone Castle

Lullingstone Castle
Address: Lullingstone Castle
Postcode: DA4 0JA
Email: Please Click Here
Telephone: 1322 862 114
Website: Please Click Here
Lullingstone Castle.
One of England’s oldest family estates and now having probably the oldest tree in Kent !!!

Wollemi Pine

Set within 120 acres of beautiful Kent countryside, Lullingstone Castle is one of England’s oldest family estates, dating back to the time of Domesday.

The present manor house and gate house, which overlook a stunning 15 acre lake, were built in 1497 and have been home to the same family ever since. Both Henry VIII and Queen Anne are known to have been regular visitors.
Hidden in the grounds, alongside the crystal clear waters of the River Darent, are Queen Anne’s bathhouse and an 18th century ice house.
Lullingstone’s two acre walled garden is currently being turned into the ‘World Garden of Plants’.
Once complete this garden will contain 10,000 different plant species which originate from every corner of the world.
Close to the manor house is St Botolph’s Parish Church, of Norman origin, which contains some of the oldest stained glass windows in England.
Tom Hart Dyke on BBC Radio Kent- 31st July 2005
Did you know that almost 80% of the plants we commonly grow in our gardens are not native to Britain? These include crocus, many roses, fuchsias, rhododendrons, tulips and even chrysanthemums and dahlias.

The UK’s first ever ‘World Garden of Plants’, set within a two acre walled garden in the grounds of Lullingstone Castle, will take visitors to the countries these plants originated from.

The World Garden is the dream of modern day plant hunter – Tom Hart Dyke.
In 2004, Tom finally began to turn his vision into reality, and over the last twelve months, the world garden has begun to take shape.

Tom’s inspiration is drawn from the amazing achievements of Victorian and Edwardian plant hunters who risked life and limb in the pursuit of the plants and flowers we now cherish.

Many of the plants already being planted Tom has personally collected from his travels around the world, and plants have also been donated to the garden by individuals, nurseries and garden centres from all over the British Isles. If you would like to donate a plant to the garden, please contact Tom

The 2005 summer season will be the first opportunity for visitors to see the germination of the Uk's first ever World Garden of Plants, which will eventually contain more than 10,000 different plant species. Please see the Visitor Information to find out how you can visit this exiting new horticultural endeavour.

Tom’s rare ‘Silver Princess’ flowers in Castle grounds

Silver Princess Eucalyptus Caesia sub sp Magna flowers for the first time in the UK in Tom Hart Dyke’s ‘World Garden of Plants’ in the grounds of his ancestral home Lullingstone Castle, Kent

It’s another first for BBC TV gonzo gardener and intrepid plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke as he proudly unveils his flowering Eucalpytus Caesia subsp Magna ‘silver princess’ to visitors at his unique ‘World Garden of Plants’ situated in the grounds of his ancestral home at Lullingstone Castle in Kent.

Tom’s consulted Australian plant specialists John Purse from Kent and Jeff Irons, President of the Australian Plant Society who confirmed with enthusiasm that it was a first in the UK! 

Tom says; ‘the reaction from John Irons was amazing – he almost dropped the phone when I told him that the Silver Princess had flowered.  He was well chuffed’.

Tom, an intrepid plant hunter, whose adventures led to a nine month incarceration in the Panamanian jungle at the hands of Colombian Guerillas in 2000, collected the seed for the Silver Princess from a garden in Melbourne, Australia four years ago.

Tom says of his Princess; ‘ she’s a tender beauty  whose receiving some special treatment in the greenhouse at Lullingstone Castle.  And although I was a bit brutal last year when I slashed at the tap root, I believe  this is the reason why she has flowered this year’.  ‘A case of treating her mean to keep her keen!’

Tom’s tale of horticultural adventures in South America and his subsequent story of the creation of ‘The World Garden of Plants’ at Lullingstone have been the subject of  BBC 2’ s ‘Save Lullingstone Castle’ on Tuesday nights for the last six weeks.

A second series charting Tom’s horticultural growth is due out in the Autumn.


An unusual family have arrived at BBC 2’s current favourite ancestral home Lullingstone Castle in Kent;  a totem pole family made up of a Dad, Mum and baby totem pole have come all the way from Bali to take pride of place in  the plant hunter, Tom Hart Dyke’s  World Garden of Plants at Lullingstone Castle.

In the 1700s British explorer Captain James Cook encountered them off the coast of British Columbia, and now explorers to Tom Hart Dyke’s garden can also discover them on the very same coastline in the garden laid out in the shape of the world map. 

Tom says of his totem poles; ‘it’s taken a year for them to get here from Bali, they’ve been stuck in ports for months – the carver might as well have got in his dug-out canoe and paddled here from Bali – it took so long! But now they’re here we’re having a special ceremony  to cleanse the family.’

The special ceremony will be given by Reg Cannon (74) from Dartford, a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe of North America, Reg’s family came to the UK in 1901 to settle in the South East. 

The cleansing ceremony will take place at noon on Tuesday 6th June within the walls of ‘the world garden’.   Reg explains; ‘I’ll be  wearing full regalia - buck skins, leggings, war shirt and eagle feathered war bonnet, and I’m going to consecrate the totem poles using Californian white sage’.

Tom and Reg have a special friendship which goes back to when Tom was kidnapped by guerrillas in the Darien Gap (Panama) in 2000.  Reg, a regular helper at Lullingstone Castle, held a special prayer circle for Tom when he was missing  in November 2000, he says of the worrying time ‘we prayed for Toms safe delivery in late November 2000 and then just before Christmas 2000 Tom came marching through the Castle Gate.  After Christmas we did another pipe circle to thank the great spirit for Toms safe return.  I put my tepee up next to the lake and Tom and his mum took part’.

Six years on and they’ve teamed up to bless the garden, and Reg is as enthusiastic as Tom about the fledgling garden project, Reg said; ‘I love the concept – I think it’s brilliant – great for families and kids’.

Tom says of his totem pole family; ‘they’re something special for the kids –  I want to encourage them into gardening at an early age, and fun objects like Ayres Rock, the Cobra from India and the totem poles inject some fun into horticulture – and if they notice the labels on the plants at the foot of the totems then all the better!’

Lullingstone Castle is open Friday and Saturday 12pm-5pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays 2pm-6pm.

Dinosaur Tree helping to Save BBC Gardener’s ‘World’ from Extinction.

Things don’t get more exciting than being given your own dinosaur!    And as far  as trees go,  the ‘Dinosaur tree’ (Dinopine) (Pinosaur) or ‘living fossil’ the Wollemi Pine‘ is thought of as one of the most thrilling botanical discoveries of the 20th Century.

A stunning example of this rare and endangered Araucariaceae relative of the Monkey Puzzle tree has been donated to Tom Hart Dyke at Lullingstone Castle for planting in ‘the World Garden of Plants’.

On Monday 10th July, Tom will be planting the living fossil in the Australian border within his map shaped garden at his ancestral home – the subject of ‘Save Lullingstone Castle’ BBC2.
lullingstoneguy_hart_dyke_wollemi_pine_tree2.jpg  lullingstonemark_taylor_from_kernock_plants_tom_hart_dyketree3.jpg

Left picture - Guy Hart Dyke and Wollemi Pine
Right picture - Mark Taylor from Kernock on the left with Tom Hart Dyke - planting the Wollemi Pine - Monday 10 July 2006

Tom is fighting to save his family’s ancestral home from decline and has received offers of support from across the UK.

Tom says: ‘over the past two years I’ve been so lucky receiving plant donations from all over the UK and Ireland – and although we’ve been given nearly £5,000 worth of plants, nothing can beat the donation of the Wollemi for excitement!  I know I get excited about plants, but the Wollemi is special.  I first saw the tree in Sydney gardens on my fateful plant hunting expedition in 1999 and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since’.

The worldwide demand for this plant has been enormous since its discovery in 1994 by David Noble 150 miles north of Sydney Australia.  Kernock Park Plants based in Cornwall are the sole licensed grower and distribution of the plant in the UK and Ireland.  They have helped Kew, Birmingham City Council, the Eden project and even the Blue Peter garden to get their hands on their own Dinosaur, and now they’re helping former kidnap hostage Tom Hart Dyke in his quest to save his ancestral castle from decline with his innovative ‘World Garden of Plants’.

Mark Taylor of Kernock says: “We are very excited and honoured to be part of a world wide effort to bring the Wollemi Pine back from the edge of extinction and we’re delighted to be able to give a helping hand in saving both Lullingstone Castle and the Wollemi Pine at the same time. We are sure that both are well on the way to recovery”.

Tom Hart Dyke  has spent the last couple of months planting up the rare plant species from across the world in his ‘World Garden of Plants’.  Education and conservation are strong themes at the garden in Kent..  Mark Taylor said:  “Having a Wollemi Pine Planted in the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle is another step in two of the most amazing conservation stories of modern times and  it’s great to be able to bring these 2 survivors together; both Tom and the Wollemi are here it seems against all odds”
Notes to editor:

Tom Hart Dyke:
Tom Hart Dyke was kidnapped in 2000 in the Darien Gap in Panama and held hostage for nine months by Colombian Guerrillas.  During his kidnap ordeal Tom spent his time building jungle gardens and jotting down plans in his diary for a map garden containing plants from across the world planted out in their respective countries of origin.  After his release, Tom set about building  ‘The World Garden of Plants’ at Lullingstone Castle (the story of which is told in Save Lullingstone Castle BBC2.  Second series due out later this year)

1. The Wollemi’s discovery: In September 1994 David Noble, an officer with the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, discovered some trees he didn’t quite recognise. In a deep, narrow canyon of the rugged Wollemi Nation Park he discovered what is now called Wollemia nobilis or the Wollemi Pine.

The dramatic discovery of an evolutionary line thought to be long extinct is even more remarkable with these tall and striking trees growing only 200 km from Sydney, the largest city in Australia. They were found in the extremely rugged Wollemi National Park, a largely undisturbed wilderness area

2. The Tree The Wollemi Pine is bisexual (monoecious), like its closest living relatives, with both male and female cones on the same tree. The round female cones produce the seeds, and the long male cones produce the pollen. The Wollemi Pine, a new conifer belonging to the family, means we can reassess and compare a range of Araucarian fossil plants going back about 116 million years to the early Cretaceous age. It seems likely that the Wollemi Pine was once present over an extensive area of eastern Australia; and possibly over a very much wider geographic range including Antarctica, New Zealand and possibly India and southern South America.

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