Cornwall's Garden of Eden
Biomes at the Eden Project, Cornwall.
Photograph by Simon Burt
What is it the Eden Project? It is a global
garden which has been developed in a 60-
metre, 15 hectare former china clay pit, and
is home to the two largest conservatories
known as `biomes' in the world. Rather
than just a botanical garden, it is dedicated
to the appreciation and study of human
dependence on plants.
The site is split into three areas:
1. the humid tropics biome where you
can experience the sights, smells and scale
of a rainforest;
2. the warm temperate biome, with the
temperate climate of South Africa and
3. the roofless biome, 30 acres of outdoor
crescent-shaped terraces which tell the story
of how plants have changed the world.
A new education centre is currently
being built, and plans are also underway for
a third biome, which will feature the dry
tropics, showing how people and plants
can work together in desert environments,
overcoming the challenges presented.
The biomes are made with a lightweight
steel structure using ethyletetrafluoroethylene
foil, which looks like voile. It is very robust,
while at the same time allowing ultra violet
rays to pass through it.
You need to strip off before entering the
humid tropics biome as its temperature is
quite hot. In an actual rain forest, it is hot
and sticky with 90% humidity, and over
60 inches of rain in a year.
A path takes you through over 1,000
tropical plants, many of them endangered
species. Displays show how different
countries, in this case West Africa, where
the people are able to feed the soil, feed
themselves and replant the forests, all at the
same time. Another area shows how, in
South America, people use the tropical
gardens to collect wild plants for food, fuel,
medicine and materials.
Walking around, you can see how these
plants can be found in products that are used
in our daily life. For example, the milky
latex harvested from the sapodilla tree can be
made into chewing gum. Cola is an African
tree which has caffeine-rich seeds, and is
used to make a well-known sparkling
Sounds are created so that you can
actually imagine yourself in a rainforest,
with an occasional clap of thunder, and the
splashing of waterfalls. Houses, built for
these climates, have been erected alongside
the plants from which they are made.
The warm temperate biome covers the
areas characterised by hot, dry summers
and cool, wet winters the Mediterranean,
parts of South Africa and California. Inside
you can enjoy various scents form the plants'
protective oils. Here can be found an array of
different herbs, olive trees and grapevines, as
well as a display of animals made from cork.
Then there is the outdoor biome that
includes ancient plants, as well as plants that
we feed on, plants to eat, and those that we
use to dye colours.
To celebrate spring, which comes early
in Cornwall thanks to the Gulf Stream, the
Eden `green team' have planted one million
bulbs which should all start coming up at the
end of February.
Trains to the Eden Project at St. Austell,
Cornwall are horrendously expensive.
Depending on where you are coming
from it is worth checking out the low-cost
airlines. A car is a must to get around.
Contact Europcar: T. 0870 607 5000
The Eden Project: T. 01726 811911
MQ Readers' Offer|
The Fowey Hotel, situated on the bank
of the Fowey River Estuary, is offering
readers of MQ dinner, bed and
breakfast plus entry to the Eden Project
from £49 per person, per night based
on two sharing during January,
February and March 2005.
During April, May and June the price
rises by £10. This offer is subject to
availability, and is not available over
the Bank or Easter holidays. Please
quote MQ when booking.
Freephone 0800 243708.
Web site created by Mark Griffin