lifestyle

Man spends 25 years turning his boring garden into a tropical jungle packed with rare plants


Meet Mike Clifford, a 60-year-old man who really loves plants (Picture: BNPS)

A house in the suburbs of Broadstone, Poole, in Dorset, isn’t where you’d expect to find a tropical jungle.

But thanks to Mike Clifford, 60, that’s exactly what you’ll spy.

He has spent 25 years turning the garden of his suburban home into an exotic jungle space, filled with rare plants from around the world.

Mike, who lives with his wife of 36 years, Tina, was inspired to get into gardening when he saw a TV show about the subject in the 1990s.

From then on, he and Tina have cultivated thousands of species – many from seed – in their garden, which is just 65ft long and 35ft wide.

The couple moved into the bungalow 10 years ago and dug up most of the plants from their old address.

‘There was a programme on the telly and there was this gardener who had an exotic garden, so I dug the whole garden up,’ said Mike.

‘It was the lushness of it which attracted me.’

His garden is filled with rare plants from around the globe (Pictyre: CorinMesser/BNPS)

The garden is home to species native to South and Central America, Africa, and China.

Because of their native climate, every autumn Mike has to spent two or three weekends digging up most of his mico-jungle and packing it away in three greenhouses to protect his plant collection from the cold.

The ones let outside are wrapped in fleece.

He then replants the species in the spring, and enjoys some of the flora growing up to 12ft tall in the summer.

Mike and Tina regularly open up their suburban jungle under National Garden Scheme and have raised thousands of pounds for charity over the years.

The 60-year-old says that every plant in the garden has a story, such as the Angel’s Trumpet, whose hallucinogenic properties were traditionally used by shamans in South and Central America to conjure visions.

He also has three greenhouses (Picture: CorinMesser/BNPS)

Although he has never tried it himself, a close call with that plant left him blind for several hours.

Mike said: ‘Victorian prostitutes used to use fluid from the Angel’s Trumpet to dilate their pupils because they thought it made them look beautiful.

‘What they didn’t know is that it can actually make you blind.’

There is also the carnivorous Nepenthes, which is native to Asian countries like south China and the Philippians, which drowns its prey in a lethal sack.

The jungle takes a lot of care, but Mike loves it – and he’s glad to have his son, Harry, 26, around to help with the heavy lifting.

The dad has now made an Instagram page dedicated to his efforts, called Mike’s Rare Plants.

Give him a follow if you’d like to see more.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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