Green-fingered man creates incredible jungle behind plain home to beat the heat

A nature-loving scientist has created the perfect place to keep cool in the sweltering heat today – a jungle in his own back garden.

As the rest of us suffer in up to 40C heat today, Dr Simon Olpin will be basking in the cool shade.

The consultant clinical biochemist, 70, has been passionate about nature since he was a boy but his fear of flying means he has never visited any jungles

Instead, he brought the jungle to his suburban garden in Sheffield, Sth Yorks, after planting his first tree in 1987/

Since then, his 8,000-square-foot tropical paradise has grown to have more than 100 species of plants, with 25-foot palm trees which tower over the sprawling garden.

The green-fingered dad says the dappled shade that’s offered by his numerous canopies provides the perfect place to cool down as temperatures rise above 40c on Monday.

He said: “It’s lovely to be in the garden on a nice sunny day as it feels calm, warm and tropical – but it’s not blisteringly hot

“When you move out into the sun on a very hot day, you immediately notice the difference – and it can become unbearable.

“We’re able to sit in the cool shade and have wine or tea with friends. It has a South-East Asian tropical atmosphere.”

Simon moved to the home in Yorkshire from Cambridge in 1987, and described his garden as a “blank canvas” that required a lot of “trial and error”.

But the green-fingered fanatic said he couldn’t put a number on the number of hours or money he had spent perfecting his project over the last three decades.

Father-of-three Dr Olpin 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 35 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 youngster, 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 1988 – which is now roughly 25ft (7.5m) tall.

Dr Olpin’s ‘jungle’ has featured around 25 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, which is 85ft.

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 45 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, 22, Lily, 28, and Holly, 30, 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.