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Man claims to have stored thousands of litres of rainwater to protect his exotic plants from drought

A green-fingered dad who spent more than 25 years turning his garden into a tropical jungle claims to have stored thousands of gallons of rainwater to protect his exotic plants from England’s looming drought – while millions face a garden hose ban to see.

Mike Clifford’s 65ft long plot behind his suburban bungalow in Poole, Dorset, is full of extraordinary species native to South and Central America, Africa and China.

While many of the 61-year-old’s plants flowered months earlier than expected due to the record heat, others, accustomed to hot and humid climates, are at risk of dying from the lack of rain.

Mr Clifford said broadleaf species, such as the Tree Daisy native to Mexico’s cloud forest, “wither” before his eyes.

The plants drink a steady stream of water for half an hour every day – but soon he may have to turn off the taps as a ban on garden hoses comes into effect in southern England.

However, he has a system of rain barrels buried underground that holds more than 2,000 liters of rainwater collected over the winter, which he hopes will be enough to save his yard.

Mike Clifford in his jungle garden at his home in Poole, Dorset

Mike Clifford in his jungle garden at his home in Poole, Dorset

Mr Clifford has stored thousands of gallons of rainwater to protect his 25-year-old exotic garden from the looming drought

Mr Clifford has stored thousands of gallons of rainwater to protect his 25-year-old exotic garden from the looming drought

The 61-year-old has spent decades changing the plot behind his suburban bungalow in a tropical jungle full of rare plants.

The 61-year-old has spent decades changing the plot behind his suburban bungalow in a tropical jungle full of rare plants.

The small garden is only 65 feet long and 35 feet wide, but it is full of extraordinary species native to South and Central America, Africa and China

The small garden is only 65 feet long and 35 feet wide, but it is full of extraordinary species native to South and Central America, Africa and China

Mr Clifford's jungle garden at the back of his house in Poole, Dorset

Mr Clifford’s jungle garden at the back of his house in Poole, Dorset

Nearly HALF of the UK will face a garden hose ban within WEEKS

Nearly half of the UK’s population will face a hose ban within weeks after a leaked document revealed three other water companies are planning restrictions.

Yesterday Britain’s largest water company, Thames Water, which supplies some 15 million people with water, said it would announce a ban in the coming weeks.

Restrictions on nearly three million people have already been announced by Southern Water, South East Water and Welsh Water.

And an internal Environment Agency document seen by the Daily Mail reveals that the water companies discussing introducing a ban are Yorkshire, with five million customers, Severn Trent with eight million and South West with up to two million.

If passed, the number of people under a garden hose ban would come to about 33 million.

The avid gardener uses submersible pumps connected to the butts, as well as two garden hoses to soak the plants. If his water supply lasts until September, he can save the garden for next summer. He will then dig up and pack most of his micro jungle in a grueling effort to protect it from the winter cold.

The father of one said: ‘The hot weather has affected each species differently – many of the plants, such as the ginger, have had early blooms.

“Normally we expect them to flower in September, just a few weeks before they need to be wrapped up for winter, so it’s nice to enjoy them a little earlier.

‘But the large-leaved plants don’t like the heat. They are wilting terribly. If you go out in the afternoon, you can watch it happen.

‘I give them quite a lot of water, but I try to reduce it. I’ve buried water eddies 4ft underground.

“A potential garden hose ban is a little worrisome, but we’re getting to the end of the season, so as long as it gets to September, I’m happy.”

Mr. Clifford replants the species in the spring and the extraordinary flora grows to 12 feet in height in the summer months.

This year has seen several new additions blossom – including the incredibly rare St. Helena Ebony or Trochetiopsis ebenus, which is critically endangered in the wild.

The four-foot-tall plant with broad white flowers was once considered extinct until scientists found two small plants perched on a rock in Mexico.

They took cuttings from the plants which were then sent to Kew Gardens, London to grow more of its kind.

Mr. Clifford took up tropical gardening when he was inspired by a TV documentary on the subject in the 1990s.

He and his wife Tina regularly open their garden as part of the National Garden Scheme and have raised thousands of pounds for charity over the years.

Mr Clifford replants the species in the spring and the extraordinary flora grows up to 12 feet high in the summer months

Mr Clifford replants the species in the spring and the extraordinary flora grows up to 12 feet high in the summer months

Mr Clifford tends his plants in the evenings and weekends in addition to his full time job as designing mobile homes

Mr Clifford tends his plants in the evenings and weekends in addition to his full time job as designing mobile homes

The garden is home to giant dandelions from the Canary Islands and Pararistolochia goldieana, a plant from Central Africa that has only flowered once in Europe

The garden is home to giant dandelions from the Canary Islands and Pararistolochia goldieana, a plant from Central Africa that has only flowered once in Europe

The couple moved into the bungalow 10 years ago and dug up most of the plants from their old address.

Their garden is home to giant dandelions from the Canary Islands and Pararistolochia goldieana, a plant from Central Africa that has only flowered once in Europe.

There is also the Angel’s Trumpet, whose hallucinogenic properties were traditionally used by shamans in South and Central America to conjure up visions.

Mr Clifford tends to his plants in the evenings and weekends in addition to his full time job designing mobile homes. His son, Harry, 26, helps with the heavy lifting.

Mr Clifford stores his plants in the winter in three greenhouses and a summer house. The ones that should be left out and wrapped in a fleece.

It can often take two to three weekends to complete the work.

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