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Man Transforms Ordinary Back Garden Into Amazing Secret Rain Forest

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Man Transforms Ordinary Back Garden Into Amazing Secret Rain Forest

To the passer-by on the street, it's just your simple semi-detached house in Leeds. To anyone in the know, it's basically a northern equivalent to the Eden Project.

Nick Wilson's house has seen £15,000 spent on its back garden, transforming it into a hidden rainforest, which is now so popular it attracts paying visitors.

The project started 20 years ago when a family trip to Cornwall inspired his love of big plants, and in 1998 the first instalment was made back at his house.

Nick said: "It took 20 years to put it all together. There are so many big ferns, bamboos and big leaf plants down there.

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"I had no idea that I liked big, thick enormous plants so much. It was such a difference to soft, fluffy garden plants. It's definitely a bloke's garden."

Credit: SWNS

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Credit: SWNS

It all started with a Gunnera Mannicata, also known as a Chilean Rhubarb - a plant that can grow up to four metres tall, with leaves that are three metres wide.

"I bought it in a garden centre in Cornwall and put a seat belt around it in the back of the car to get it back home," Nick explained.

"That's the thing - the plants in here aren't actually that rare. You should be able to pick them up at any garden centre in the UK.

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"The key plants in this jungle are Tetrapanax Rex, Gunnera Mannicata and the Tree Fern."

Nick, a father and grandfather, has opened up his garden to the public for the last six years for viewings, with the proceeds going to different charities.

Credit: SWNS

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Credit: SWNS

In June, Nick opened up for one day, with 500 visitors helping to raise £2,500 for St Gemma's Hospice in Moortown.

Later this month, on 30 July, the garden will open up again, with proceeds this time going towards Marie Curie and MacMillan cancer charities.

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And the cost to keep the garden running and looking green is not as bad as you may think.

"Now that everything is set up, the main cost is yearly maintenance but I'd say that only comes to about £200," says Nick.

"I've got a lot of wooden walkways and fixtures, so obviously they need cleaning and maintaining, usually with a pressure washer.

"In order to create the jungle effect I use normal English bedding like geraniums and New Guinea hybrids. I buy a lot of those types of plants every year.

"Over winter a lot of the plants can be protected from the cold by wrapping their leaves back around the stems. I bring the rest indoors and take them back out around May."

Credit: SWNS

Perhaps surprisingly, his wife is very supportive of his creation, with their grandson loving his adventures in the back yard.

Nick's mini-Amazon is some way off the real deal, which has over 40,000 different plant species, and is home to 10 percent of all known species in the world.

The Leeds version, Nick says, uses plastic animals to help create the feel.

If deforestation continues, then maybe there is a new option for a home for some of the supposed 250,000 Amazon natives that live there.

Featured Image Credit: SNWS

Topics: Leeds, Garden

Michael Minay
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