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28 October 2014

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Lullingstone Castle

You are in: Kent > Nature > Lullingstone Castle > The upside down tree

Tom and Will at the foot of the wire tree

Tom and Will at the foot of the wire tre

The upside down tree

Tom Hart Dyke’s World Garden boasts a rather unusual "plant" as part of the collection. It's an "upside down" boabab tree, made of wire.

The tree in question, known as The Baobab would prove to be a very different addition to Tom’s diverse horticultural landscape at Lullingstone Castle as it was made by hand by Sevenoaks based Will Jordan from 51 kilometres of twisted steel wire.

It all began in the summer of 2006 when Tom was left an answer phone message offering, what sounded to him like, "a sculpture made out of chicken mess". Never one to refuse an unusual offer, Tom decided to go and investigate the potential  "bird poo" sculpture.  After speaking to the man behind the message, local artist Will Jordan, it soon became clear that Tom’s answer phone was anything but, and in actual fact he was being offered an art piece made out of chicken "mesh", not "mess"!

With the small matter of the chicken mess cleared up, a deal was struck. Will would create an "‘upside down tree" or Baobab to go in the centre of Africa in the World Garden.

Tom and Will set about making plans for a sculpture in the shape of a Baobab tree – a tree that Tom had previously tried to grow without success.  Tom said, " I tried to grow some from seed, but they barely germinated, and if we had one here in the World Garden then frost would kill it.  It’s a brilliant tree,  so symbolic of the African continent, and the sculpture seemed the perfect solution."

Tom and Will and their amazing tree.

Tom and Will and their amazing tree.

Tom and Will’s plans raised a few eyebrows when Will visited the garden and demonstrated the prototype tree.  Will said, "I took with me a couple of bits of wire and a pole which we strapped together with tape and held aloft.  We needed to get a rough idea of what would be a good size for the garden.  We got some funny looks from people visiting the garden.  Tom and I told them; 'it’s going to be a tree!'" 

The amazing tree, made entirely from stainless steel,  has been created with 51 kilometres of wire.  Will used a large stainless steel tube to mount the 8 foot tree, setting it in place in Central Africa in the World-map shaped garden.

Will has utilized wires of differing thickness (up to 5mm), running the wires up and down the tree structure , mimicking the fibres which run up and down in a real tree. 

Will said, "I’m hoping that the visitors from last summer will return and be impressed with the structure which now looks just like a Baobab tree."

Tom is chuffed to bits with the new African addition. "It’s a brilliant addition to the garden, people are mistaking it for the real thing from long range. People ask whether I’ve spray painted a tree. It’s great that Will’s done such a realistic job.  It stands out and when the sun’s on it it glistens tremendously."

last updated: 18/07/2008 at 13:12
created: 03/04/2007

You are in: Kent > Nature > Lullingstone Castle > The upside down tree

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