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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 October, 2004, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Jungle captive's garden designs
Lullingstone Castle
Tom Hart Dyke is creating the garden in the castle grounds
A man who designed a garden when he believed he was about to die at the hands of South American revolutionaries has set about realising his plans.

Plant expert Tom Hart Dyke was looking for orchids in the Colombian jungle when he and Paul Winder were kidnapped.

The friends were held for nine months and threatened with being beheaded.

He said he coped with the threat of death by designing a garden. He is now turning his plans into reality at his home in Lullingstone Castle, Sevenoaks.

The pair were in the Darien Gap when they were taken hostage by armed guerrillas four years ago.

Mr Hart Dyke had been held for about three weeks when he was told he was going to die.

I wanted to put it under a palm leaf before they shot me, so perhaps mum could find it in a few years' time
Tom Hart Dyke

"This guy came in and said 'today is the last day of your life and this is how we are going to end it', with hack saws and so on," the horticulturalist told BBC South East Today.

"Looking back, it was a trick to try to wear you down mentally.

"I went into this roller coaster of emotions. I thought I am going to die here. I had better do a garden design.

"I wanted to put it under a palm leaf before they shot me, so perhaps mum could find it in a few years' time."

Since moving back to Kent, Mr Hart Dyke has started work on the walled garden, called World of Plants, which is divided into four continents, in four rectangular beds, and is due to open in spring 2005.

"I pinch everything I can pinch," he said.

"I cannot believe I am here. I live and breathe each day now, much more than I did before.

"It's taken that to make me realise I've got one chance at life."

'My jungle kidnap ordeal'
25 Sep 03  |  UK
Mother to search for jungle son
16 Jul 00  |  UK News



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