Father-of-three, 69, spends 30 years transforming his Yorkshire garden into a ‘jungle’


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.

Dr Simon Olpin, 69, (pictured) has an enormous 'jungle' in the back garden of his semi-detached home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Dr Simon Olpin, 69, (pictured) has an enormous ‘jungle’ in the back garden of his semi-detached home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire

He has devoted the last three decades to growing his garden since 1987, which he said was a 'blank canvas' before he got started

He has devoted the last three decades to growing his garden since 1987, which he said was a ‘blank canvas’ before he got started

Google satellite view of the jungle garden shows how the clinical biochemist has made use of all the space in the garden to create his 'jungle'

Google satellite view of the jungle garden shows how the clinical biochemist has made use of all the space in the garden to create his ‘jungle’

The incredible jungle-style garden has even reached the front garden which plays hosts to a range of different plants and trees from around the world

The incredible jungle-style garden has even reached the front garden which plays hosts to a range of different plants and trees from around the world

The garden at the back of his suburban home is filled with plants and trees from around the world, including more than 100 species of plant

The garden at the back of his suburban home is filled with plants and trees from around the world, including more than 100 species of plant

The father of three's passion for nature began when he was a child and he has since been able to express his passions through his impressive garden

The father of three’s passion for nature began when he was a child and he has since been able to express his passions through his impressive garden 

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.

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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.

Mr Olpin said his fear of flying meant he was never been able to travel the world and see any jungles so instead decided to make one in his back garden

Mr Olpin said his fear of flying meant he was never been able to travel the world and see any jungles so instead decided to make one in his back garden

Dr Simon Olpin's garden features palm trees which tower 100ft in height

The trees give the illusion that visitors are actually in a jungle

Dr Simon Olpin’s garden features palm trees which tower 100ft in height and give the illusion that visitors are actually in a jungle

The garden in Sheffield began when Mr Olpin planted his first tree from a 'small pot' back in 1987 and it has since evolved into a large jungle-like space

The garden in Sheffield began when Mr Olpin planted his first tree from a ‘small pot’ back in 1987 and it has since evolved into a large jungle-like space

Dr Olpin's 'jungle' has featured more than 30 species of bamboo

The bamboo has thrived in his beautiful Yorkshire garden

Dr Olpin’s ‘jungle’ has featured more than 30 species of bamboo (pictured) which have thrived in his beautiful Yorkshire garden

After moving to Sheffield from Cambridge in 1987 he said a lot of 'trial and error' has gone into the making of the garden you see today

After moving to Sheffield from Cambridge in 1987 he said a lot of ‘trial and error’ has gone into the making of the garden you see today

Mr Olpin started creating the jungle more than 30 year ago

Since starting Mr Olpin has lost track of the amount of hours or money he has spent perfecting his project

Since he started more than 30 years ago, Mr Olpin has lost track of the amount of hours or money he has spent perfecting his project

‘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.

From a young age he said he was 'fascinated by everything that crept and crawled'

His interest in animals from a young age was projected to his garden later in life

From a young age he said he was ‘fascinated by everything that crept and crawled’ and his interest was projected to his garden later in life

When he moved to the Yorkshire town he started to developing a more keen interest in exotic plants

When he moved to the Yorkshire town he started to developing a more keen interest in exotic plants 

For the past 30 years he has been trying to build up his jungle

He says he has managed to 'bring a place like Bhutan or a bit of southeast Asia to my garden in Yorkshire'

For the past 30 years he has been trying to build up his jungle, which he says he has managed to ‘bring a place like Bhutan or a bit of southeast Asia to my garden in Yorkshire’

His fear of flying was so severe he was never able to visit all the places in the world and instead decided to bring a bit of them into his garden

His fear of flying was so severe he was never able to visit all the places in the world and instead decided to bring a bit of them into his garden

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

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.

His first tree was an 18-inch Chinese windmill plant which he purchased from a university sale in 1987 (pictured in 1987)

His first tree was an 18-inch Chinese windmill plant which he purchased from a university sale in 1987 (pictured in 1987)

Mr Olpin has created a small winding path to navigate through to a thatched hut which he built under two massive 32-year-old eucalyptus trees. Pictured: Garden pond built by Simon in 1989

Mr Olpin has created a small winding path to navigate through to a thatched hut which he built under two massive 32-year-old eucalyptus trees. Pictured: Garden pond built by Simon in 1989

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.

He says that his garden is many people's 'worst nightmare' but said it's exactly the way he wants it. Pictured: Rare poison dart frogs Dr Olpin has begun breeding in the jungle

He says that his garden is many people’s ‘worst nightmare’ but said it’s exactly the way he wants it. Pictured: Rare poison dart frogs Dr Olpin has begun breeding in the jungle

The father of three acknowledged that 'You do need good neighbours' to have a garden like his

Some of his massive tall trees sprawl 100 foot

The father of three acknowledged that ‘You do need good neighbours’ to have a garden like his, as his massive tall trees sprawl 100 foot

His family have grown up loving the adventure which came from having a jungle in the back garden. Pictured: A plant in the jungle

His family have grown up loving the adventure which came from having a jungle in the back garden. Pictured: A plant in the jungle

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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