Tom Hart Dyke searches for a new name for his Cacti House

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Or…that which we call a Cacti & succulent house
May be one to keep…..….?

The, as yet, un-named, Cacti & Succulent House, World Garden, Lullingstone
Tom Hart Dyke’s all new Cacti and Succulent House, part of the World Garden at Lullingstone Castle, will be unveiled on Saturday 22nd March when the famous Tudor House and grounds opens its gates for the 2008 season. Tom is busy plant up the beds. In fact he's so busy he's forgotten to come up with a new name for the 'Cacti House'. Tom says: 'I don't really know what to call it, it would kill me to call it 'The Cacti & Succulent House' - that's so boring! We're in need of some assistance here with the name and we'd love to throw it open to the public'.

The new plant House will contain close to 1,000 species of cacti and succulents collected by modern day plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke. Tom says: ‘'In terms of horticulture, it's going to be amazing - and it should even rival Kew! We’ve invited Mr Cactus himself – Jim Earles from Eltham, to come and open the new House. Jim is wonderful, an absolute expert on the ‘pricklies’, he donated thirteen Golden Barrell Cacti, thought to be extinct in the wild.'

Cacti Jim's Golden Balls will have pride of place in the Mexican border. The Cacti House will be laid out in five beds, roughly corresponding to the shape of South West USA, South East USA, Mexico as the central roundabout and South Africa and South America, mirroring the outline of Tom's famous World Garden (WG) laid out in the shape of a map of the world. Every plant grown in the cactus house will be exclusive to that structure and won't be repeated outside in the WG itself.

At 58 foot long, 23 foot wide and 16 foot high at its highest point, the new House will cover the entire south wall of the WG, sitting on the site of the ancient Glass Houses from the Edwardian days. The new structure to house Tom's amazing collection of Cacti and Succulents has been erected, with proper ventilation, and gravel has been laid.

Tom says: Ventilation will be very important, looking to keep it 5 degrees c minimum. Wheel chair access is a must, so we've built the path at 3 foot 6 wide, on level ground so that it's easy to negotiate. The beds themselves will be a mixture (no soil) of gravel, stones, flint, coal, charcoal to give drainage, and will be raised a maximum of a metre from the ground. I'm currently considering using purple sand!'

But what's in a name?
Tom's own suggestion; 'The Xeraphytic House' fell on deaf ears at Lullingstone - most of the volunteers were left wondering what he was going on about. Tom says: 'It's not the first time, I've had my volunteers lost for words! Xeraphytic sounds pretty good to me - it means lover of dry and arid climes - but I'm also aware that it's not exactly a catchy name for the new House which will contain over 1,000 species of Cacti and Succulents from across the globe'.

Tom says: ' We'll have lot s of really tall cacti from South America – Cleisto cactus with a big tall colomnus furry spikes. Mexico will hold the thirteen golden Barrel cactus – which were donated by Cactus Jim (Jim Earles from Eltham) thought to be extinct in the wild. The South African border will contain fabulous succulents.'

Suggestions to: or via or by post to Tom Hart Dyke, Lullingstone Castle, Eynsford, Kent DA4 0JA

Press enquiries: to 07886673412 or 01322 866293

Lullingstone Castle & The World Garden open on Saturday 22nd March details 01322 862114

posted by Vikki Rimmer at 9:21 PM 0 comments

Working with the explorers

Thursday, January 17, 2008

There seems to be a theme developing of late...... and it involves fit young men who travel to the ends of the earth to satiate their passion. Yep, I've been working with some explorers.

Having worked with Tom Hart Dyke for the past four years I'm used to the lengths guys will go to make their dreams a reality. Tom brought home an idea for a garden, created in the depths of the Colombian jungle, and built it within the grounds of his family's Castle. Not an average challenge or a 9 to 5 endeavour.

Ed Stafford and Luke Collyer aren't your average thirty-something guys either. In April they will begin their 4,000 mile walk along the banks of the amazon river. Ed and Luke hope to highlight the perils of climate change by keeping a comprehensive educational blog at

Ed and Luke will walk the Amazon for approximately 16 months, carrying only what they can fit into their rucksacks. They're also taking some pretty funky technological kit with them. In order to 'blog'camera footage from the depths of the jungle, they'll need to unfurl their rolled up solar panels and plug in their chargers and laptops. The camera's they're taking, courtesy of Sony and Ginger TV, aren't small either.....leaving me to wonder, what they'll actually be taking in their rucksacks in terms of survival aids! .....erm.....pants????
Ed and Luke's Top Five Survival Tips…

Water. You cannot survive for more than a couple of days if you run out of water. How much do you have on you and where might you look for fresh water? Head downhill to find water courses - moving water is better than stagnant. Boil if possible to purify. If there are no streams then you can also make rain traps and find water vines.
Shelter. Protection from the elements is essential for cooking and sleeping. If you don't have any materials then palm leaves can be easily fashioned into a thatch on a basic wooden structure. A machete is invaluable for this job.
Fire. As well as being essential for cooking, purifying water, and keeping insects at bay, a fire is also fantastic for morale. Great jungle telly for those long evenings.
Food. This is the least essential survival priority. You can go for weeks without food and should ensure the first three priorities are covered before you start looking for food. Palm hearts are readily available and there are many seasonal fruits and nuts that can be foraged for. Fishing is the easiest way of getting protein although termites make a less tasty alternative.
Positivity. A positive attitude and keeping yourself busy and active will ensure that you survive. Your attitude towards a survival situation is the key to success. Enjoy it.


Never eat yellow snow
Always use a condom
Follow your kebab to find your way home
Always carry a towel
Always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere

posted by Vikki Rimmer at 8:10 PM 0 comments