Return to Lullingstone Castle (2007)


Tom Hart Dyke standing by pretty flowers

Tom Hart Dyke © Vikki Rimmer

Production Company: BBC

Kent Filming Locations: Lullingstone Castle

Tom Hart Dyke is a modern day plant hunter who follows in the traditions of the Victorian plant hunters who risked life and limb in pursuit of fantastic blooms and plants.

Tom is no stranger to danger, he hit the headlines in 2000 when an ill-fated plant hunting expedition ended in kidnap and a nine month hostage ordeal at the hands of guerrillas in Colombia.  All, bar his family, gave Tom up for dead in the summer of 2000.  But with guile and luck Tom’s captors let him go a week before Christmas 2000. He made it out of the jungle and returned to his ancestral home, Lullingstone Castle in Kent.

Tom’s family have resided at Lullingstone Castle since the days of the Domesday.  Lullingstone entertained King Henry VIII and Queen Anne was a regular visitor to the family home.  But in recent times, things have been hard for the Hart Dyke family.  Visitor numbers have fallen and bankruptcy loomed.  That was until Tom Hart Dyke, heir to the Castle and the 20th generation of the Hart Dyke’s to live at Lullingstone, came up with a plan to bring back visitors ; the creation of The World Garden.

Tom Filmed in his Garden

Tom Filmed in his Garden © Vikki Rimmer (Lullingstone Castle)

Tom has spent the last four years creating his World Garden, a garden he designed in the fetid heat of the Colombian rain forest, during his kidnap ordeal.  Tom and his family  built the garden in the two acre site of the old herb garden at Lullingstone.  Tom was lucky enough to have a film crew follow him throughout the last four years, and the BBC2 series; ‘Save Lullingstone Castle’ (April 2006) and ‘Return to Lullingstone Castle’ (BBC2 Spring 2007) tell the story of the creation of the jungle-inspired garden laid out in the shape of a world map containing plants collected on Tom’s trips around the globe.

Tom says; ‘I’ve had an amazing couple of years, being followed by KEO Films (makers of the River Cottage series and both ‘Save Lullingstone Castle’ and ‘Return To Lullingstone Castle’).  The crew have been really supportive and have become good friends.  It’s unusual having cameras follow you as you dig and weed, but it’s brought about an unprecedented interest in Lullingstone and the World Garden’

‘I feel immensely privileged to hold the British passport and be able to travel literally to the ends of the earth to see the plants I want to collect.  But on a recent plant hunting trip, filmed for BBC online, that had me scaling the dizzy heights of Venezuela’s biggest mountain, I was struck by the feeling that  there’s  no place like Lullingstone.  It’s my home – where my roots are.  I literally have a ‘tap root’ planted firmly in the soil in the World Garden at Lullingstone in Kent.  It’s where I want to be ” in my ‘world in one acre’.

Tom is currently busy working in The World Garden at Lullingstone.

‘Return to Lullingstone Castle’ aired on BBC2 from Monday the 19th March 2007 at 8.30 for 6 weeks


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