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Down under the World Garden

PUBLISHED: 11:34 23 July 2009 | UPDATED: 17:13 16 August 2010

BEFORE I get started on this week s exciting Green Man topic can I belt out a humongous shout out to everyone who supported Jo and I at the Dartford Festival. It was more bustling with people this year compared to last year and had a great atmosphere. T

BEFORE I get started on this week's exciting Green Man topic can I belt out a humongous shout out to everyone who supported Jo and I at the Dartford Festival.

It was more bustling with people this year compared to last year and had a great atmosphere. The boost it gave me to know how many people read my plant-filled babbling column means a lot to me. After all without your support this column and indeed the World Garden would be in dire straits! A huge thank you, oh and apologies to anyone at the Dartford Festival whose nostrils were offended when you stuck your nose into the curiously pongy flowers of the aptly named Dog Pooh Plant.

This weekend at Lullingstone is an extremely cool weekend what with the MG Car Rally on Saturday and on Sunday, from 11am to 6pm, the highlight of the year at Lullingstone for me - our first ever Eucalyptus Day.

I've looked forward to this event for ages. Eucalyptus Day is being held to celebrate our new National Collection Status of this diverse genus but also to delight in all things Australian.

A didgeridoo player will be perched on the miniature Ayers Rock in the World Garden, a barbie will be churning out burgers, and some 15 snakes, including a 15ft boa constrictor from South America, will be slithering around the walled garden!

I'll also be giving the first guided tours of the collection and there will be some very rare Eucalypts for sale.

What is so incredible about this genus is that so many are hardy in the UK, especially the varieties coming from the very high altitude regions of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

The Lullingstone stonking collection now boasts approaching 100 different species and hybrids most of which are grown outside in good old 'tropical' north-west Kent.

We have the smallest species in the world, Eucalyptus vernicosa which only grows to a couple of feet. It is a rockery candidate. Together with many now thriving at Lullingstone, this species was sourced by me on a four-month sponsored plant hunting expedition to Tasmania, ten years ago.

You simply can't beat going into the wild to get the right plant for our climate. No book or TV programme can teach you that.

To see what native conditions a plant grows in is the biggest learning curve ever. Oh readers, we've also got the rarest gum tree in the world, Eucalyptus morrisbyi, with some for sale, exclusively this Sunday.

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