What hosepipe ban! Man, 61, who grew a tropical jungle in his back garden claims to have stored thousands of litres of rainwater to protect from drought as millions of Brits face having to limit water use (and his neighbours haven’t been so lucky!)
- Green-fingered father Mike Clifford has spent 25 years turning his garden into a tropical jungle
- He claims to have stored thousands of litres of rainwater to protect the exotic plants from drought
- It comes as millions of Britons face a hosepipe ban as a drought in England looms large
A green-fingered father who has spent more than 25 years turning his garden into a tropical jungle claims to have stored thousands of litres of rainwater to protect his exotic plants from England’s looming drought – while millions face a hosepipe ban.
Mike Clifford’s 65ft-long plot behind his suburban bungalow in Poole, Dorset is packed with extraordinary species native to South and Central America, Africa, and China.
Though many of the 61-year-old’s plants have bloomed months earlier than expected due to the record-breaking heat, others, which are used to warm and moist climates, are at risk of dying due to the shortage of rain.
Mr Clifford said broad-leafed species such as the Tree Daisy indigenous to the cloud forest of Mexico are ‘withering’ in front of his eyes.
The plants drink up a constant flow of water for half an hour each day – but soon he may have to turn off the taps as hosepipe bans come into force across southern England.
However, he has a system of water butts buried beneath ground containing over 2,000 litres of rainwater collected in winter, which he hopes will be enough to save his garden.
Mike Clifford in his jungle garden at his home in Poole, Dorset
Mr Clifford has stored thousands of litres of rainwater to protect his 25-year old exotic garden from the looming drought
The 61-year-old has spent decades turning the plot behind his suburban bungalow into a tropical jungle full of rare plants
The small garden is only 65ft long and 35ft wide, yet it is packed with extraordinary species native to South and Central America, Africa, and China
Mr Clifford’s jungle garden at the back of his home in Poole, Dorset
Almost half of the UK population face hosepipe bans within weeks after a leaked document revealed three more water companies are planning restrictions.
Yesterday Britain’s biggest water company, Thames Water, which supplies some 15million people, said it would announce a ban in the coming weeks.
Restrictions covering nearly three million people have already been announced by Southern Water, South East Water and Welsh Water.
And an internal Environment Agency document seen by the Daily Mail reveals that the water companies discussing whether to bring in a ban are Yorkshire, with five million customers, Severn Trent with eight million and South West with up to two million.
If enacted, it would bring the number of people under a hosepipe ban to around 33million.
The avid gardener uses submersible pumps connected to the butts as well as two hosepipes to soak the plants. If his water reserves last until September, then he will be able to salvage the garden for next summer. He will then dig up and pack most of his micro-jungle away in a back-breaking effort to protect it from the winter cold.
The father-of-one said: ‘The hot weather has affected each species differently – many of the plants like the gingers have had an early blossom.
‘We would normally expect to them to flower in September just a few weeks before they need to be packed away for winter, so its nice to enjoy them a little earlier.
‘But the big leafed plants don’t like the heat. They are wilting terribly. If you go out there at midday, you can see it happening.
‘I water them quite a lot but I’m trying to cut it back. I’ve got water butts buried 4ft beneath the ground.
‘A potential hosepipe ban is a bit of a worry but we’re getting to the end of the season so as long as it makes it to September I’ll be happy’.
Mr Clifford replants the species in the spring and the extraordinary flora grows up to 12ft in height in the summer months.
This year he has seen several new additions come to fruition – including the incredibly rare St Helena Ebony, or Trochetiopsis ebenus, which is critically endangered in the wild.
The 4ft high plant with broad white flowers was once believed to be extinct until scientists found two small plants attached to a rock in Mexico.
They took cuttings from the plants which were then sent to Kew Gardens, London, to grow more of its kind.
Mr Clifford began tropical gardening when he was inspired by a TV documentary on the subject in the 1990s.
He and his wife Tina regularly open up their garden under National Garden Scheme and have raised thousands of pounds for charity over the years.
Mr Clifford replants the species in the spring and the extraordinary flora grows up to 12ft in height in the summer months
Mr Clifford tends to his plants in the evenings and on weekends alongside his full-time job designing mobile homes
The garden is home to giant dandelions from the Canary Islands and Pararistolochia goldieana, a plant from central Africa which has only flowered once in Europe
The couple moved into the bungalow 10 years ago and dug up most of the plants from their old address.
Their garden is home to giant dandelions from the Canary Islands and Pararistolochia goldieana, a plant from central Africa which has only flowered once in Europe.
There is also the Angel’s Trumpet, whose hallucinogenic properties were traditionally used by shamans in South and Central America to conjure visions.
Mr Clifford tends to his plants in the evenings and on weekends alongside his full-time job designing mobile homes. His son, Harry, 26, helps with the heavy lifting.
Mr Clifford stores his plants in three greenhouses and a summer house over winter. Those that have to be left out and wrapped in a fleece.
It can often take two to three weekends to complete the work.
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