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Eden Project, Cornwall, England - a Visionary, Green, Global Garden.

Updated on July 31, 2014

A Hole in the Ground

It's mind boggling what you can do with an enormous hole in the ground.

Welcome to the Eden Project, a remarkable place of conservation, a meaningful celebration of the environment, a calm sanctuary of caring and respect for the planet.

The Biomes.

A modern botanical garden exploring the theme of sustainability
A modern botanical garden exploring the theme of sustainability | Source

In The Beginning


It all began with local man Tim Smit. As he drove around the narrow lanes near St Austell, Cornwall, he kept seeing a vast white quarry; flood-prone, barren and an eyesore.

With extraordinary vision he made plans to change it. In March 2001 the vision became reality. The Eden Project was launched.

In the beginning, the plans almost didn’t come to fruition. Tim Smit sketched plans on a scrap of paper and started talking to local government.

Only in 2000 when the British Government’s Millennium cash came in did the ball keep rolling.

Today the Eden Trust is a registered charity.

Biomes

Source

It all Happens…


Tim Smit knew what would be involved in the transformation - he had already rejuvenated the neglected Lost Gardens of Heligan, a few kilometres down the road.

At that time it was the biggest garden restoration in history, uncovering plants and structures that had been overgrown for 70 years.

The advantages of the Eden site were that the old china clay pit faced the sun, had a crater big enough for 35 soccer grounds and was within minutes of other tourist attractions.

Enter the big construction folk, who, to form the base of the biomes moved 1.8 million tonnes of rock and soil. A world record in compost was created – 85,000 tonnes.

Lost Garden of Heligan also rejuvenated in Cornwall

Lost Garden of Heligan - Cornwall
Lost Garden of Heligan - Cornwall | Source

About the Biomes


The Eden Project houses the world’s largest greenhouses or geodesic biomes. It’s a bit of a shock when you first see them, giant futuristic golf ball-looking things that appear to be floating on the landscape.

Now, the biomes are home to around one million plants, of thousands of species from around the world. The objective is dedicated to explaining human dependence on plants, to celebrate what nature gives while respecting all that sustains us.

In a fast living, fast food, pre packaged, technological world, it's easy to become blasé about nature. Here's an opportunity to reconnect, to comprehend the link between plants, people and resources.

Visitors are flocking to experience it.

Each biome illustrates how plants are essential to animal and human life. To reinforce the message Eden uses exhibitions, art, story telling, workshops, lectures, and events.

You can discover what a world without plants would be like. The logistics are clear, if our future isn't green we don't have one.



Inside the Tropical Biome

Inside the Tropical Biome
Inside the Tropical Biome | Source

Rainforest Biome

The focus of the largest biome is the Humid Tropics. Here you'll see how in the Amazon rainforest water travels upwards inside trees, makes clouds, rains back down and is once again taken back up by trees. It goes through this cycle seven times before it reaches the sea.

Among the towering plants from the tropics are balsa, teak, mahogany, banana, coffee, rubber and giant bamboo.

There's a Malaysian stilt house surrounded by garden and chickens. A reminder of how other cultures use natural resources to survive.

Look around, you’ll see a gushing waterfall, bananas growing, spices and nuts,

Discover the beans that supply cocoa and chocolate.

Want a walk among the treetops? Easy, there’s a canopy walkway.

Rubber trees are prominent, a product used for many things from tyres to condoms.

A Rainforest Balloon hoists the gardeners to the highest canopies. African totem sculptures dot the landscape.

Be Prepared


It’s easy to feel slightly woozy in the warm fug of a tropical atmosphere, if this happens there are no worries.

“This way, Madam, into the cool room,” said a polite young man to an elderly lady. A chill out in the refrigerated rest and recovery room worked wonders before she tackled the jungle again.

Its not often you need a cool room in England, but here is a corner of the West Country that is forever humid.

Other Biomes


Another biome is Warm Temperature. It recreates the natural landscape of California, the Mediterranean and South Africa. The humid and warm biomes form the backdrop to the temperate panorama called Outdoor Biome.

Visitors follow paths through the biomes where interactive displays, talks and sketches inform them about individual plants and their uses.

For those with a particular interest there are trails with themes, plants with medicinal uses, plants and sport, plants significant to the Asian culture.

The roles of plants as renewable fuel are examined.

Sculptures


To enhance the walkways many sculptors and builders were commissioned to create art works to complement the life of plants.

One impressive sculpture is named Seed carved from a single piece of granite.

The Seed at Eden

The Seed -
The Seed - | Source

Assembling the Biomes

Assembling the Biomes

Amazingly, the huge domes arrived at Eden as flat-pack kits with assembly instructions. (The mind boggles at my house where assemble translates as trauma - dare I mention bunk beds?)

Imagine erecting just one dome, covering 3.9 acres, 180ft high, 328ft wide and 656 ft long.

The panes of the biome are created from a triple layer of thin UV-transparent film. Each piece of film and frame was individually numbered and painstakingly fitted into place like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Architects computed with the help of 22 abseilers.

The biomes also capture solar energy by day and radiate it from a heat bank at night.

There’s Much More

Visitors of all ages can discover more about natural products through chocolate days, tea tasting, dyeing workshops, listen-touch-smell-taste aspects.

Yes, it's educational. Yes, it's fun, designed to excite everyone’s passion to learn.

Eden is kid friendly, disability friendly. And you can relax and have a cuppa or a meal.

There are coffee bars and the main restaurant links to the biomes and can seat 500.

Outside 24 acres of garden provide the setting for the commissioned sculptures that complement the plants.

Grasswoman - Eden Project

Grasswoman - eden Project
Grasswoman - eden Project | Source

Visiting the Eden Project

Visiting Eden

Despite being 115 miles from London, Eden has become a tourist attraction, up there with the Tower of London and the London Eye.

An astonishing achievement considering environment and turnstile are not necessarily compatible.

Holiday firms now group the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project into three-day packages.

Visitors may spend hours of steady walking, although land-trains are available to ease the feet and transport people from the biomes to the visitor centre.

There are many car parks and it's wise to note exactly which one you are in, especially if you're driving a beige nondescript hire car (I can vouch for this!.)

There's a gift shop with a welcome difference. Once again Smit insisted that all products on sale be either local, inspired by art exhibits in the biomes, or imported on a fair-trade basis from around the world.

A day at the Eden Project is unforgettable. It fills you with hope – hope that forests can be restored, salinity can be reversed, deserts made fertile.

I just hope I visit again soon.


A Final Question

Yo may ask - now it is established and thriving why it is still called the Eden Project? The answer is clear, Eden will always progress, always look for new and innovative issues and remain a project forever.

A markerthe eden project cornwall -
Eden Project, Cornwall PL24 2SG, UK
get directions

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Awesome, educational, and weird at the same time (especially that grass lady). I have never heard of this place. It is modern in its design but yet a throwback at the same time. Truly unique. Thank you for presenting this!

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

      This is similar to a Botanical Gardens trip I went on a few years ago in the Napa Valley in California. There were test areas that looked somewhat like the Biomes you show here and each one had a different climate inside. Your article was very informative - I felt like I was walking through each area - and I voted it up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is amazing what man can do when his research and efforts are aimed toward new innovations....wonderfully written...a must see if ever in that area.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Thank you for this, I've been meaning to visit the Eden Project for quite a while, maybe I'll make it next spring. This hub just got me all fired up again. :) Amazing place, you've done a wonderful job, well done.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I didn't realise the same person was involved with the Lost Gardens of Heligan and you've mentioned much more about the background to this place which is fascinating.

      I went to the Eden Project some years ago. The great thing about it, as you say, is that you're never going to see the same thing twice as it evolves constantly.

      I went with a group of school-children just before Christmas. They had an ice rink for the Christmas period and I loved skating. I had a go, fell and broke my wrist, the only casualty of the trip. Of course, the class had a great laugh at my expense. Fortunately, I did manage to see the domes before my demise.

      Great hub! Ann

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Flourish - thank you. Yes, the Eden project is unusual, amazing really as it keeps evolving. Great place to visit.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Rachael, many thanks, glad you enjoyed. Good to know there are similar places like your visit to the Napa Botanical Gardens. All most hopeful and comforting I reckon.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Bill, the Eden project certainly proves that, indeed, much can be accomplished if we set our hearts and minds to the task. Appreciate your comments, thanks.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      tobusiness, thank you and I hope you manage a visit next year. I'd like to visit again sometime. It's a while since I went and wrote about it for a newspaper over here.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Ann, that is some story. Oh no, I can imagine how the children reacted. Hope all healed quickly. The Eden Project does have an interesting history, fascinating how it evolved. I haven't been to Heligan, wish I'd been while we were down in Cornwall a few years ago. Never enough time. Thank you for your comments, appreciate it. Best...

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was fascinating travmaj. If I ever get to England, the Eden Project will be on my list as one of the first places to visit. there should be more people with the insight of Tim Smit. Voted up.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 2 years ago from Georgia country

      I haven't been to England yet. If ever I come to England I will definitely visit the Eden Project which seems to be fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      This Eden Project is next on my 'to visit list' when I happen to visit my daughter in the UK. Tim and his impressive project has inspired me for several years and I loved reading your hub. Never knew the background, so that was in itself very interesting to read. Thank you!

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Sounds like a very worthy and inspiring project!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 2 years ago from Singapore

      This looks like Gardens by the Bay in Singapore!!!A similar concept too.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Hi travmaj, yes its beautiful isn't it? I nearly went once, but we decided to miss it on our trip to cornwall, shame, I really wanted to go. maybe soon I hope, I remember seeing a guy on a sort of pulley system above the trees in their, he was tending the trees, looked amazing!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Thanks John, I agree, Smit certainly had insight and passion for the Eden Project. Hope you get to visit one day, you won't be disappointed.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Nadine May, Thank you, pleased it filled in some background.Enjoy your visit when the time comes. Best wishes...

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      grand old lady, thank you, your comment summed it up perfectly.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Michelle, fabulous, these green glorious places are making a mark all over. Thank you

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Nell Rose, I know, it's difficult trying to fit everything into a trip. The pulley thing you mention is probably the Rainforest Balloon that hoists the gardeners to the highest canopies. to tend the plants. They thought of everything. Best wishes...

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 2 years ago from Reno NV

      What a great vacation idea! I would love to show my family. Jamie

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Jamie, yes, I'm sure your family would be delighted with the Eden Project. So much to see and do for all ages. Thank you.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for a lovely hub about the Eden Project. It's a wonderful place to visit. One of my grandfathers came from Par and I have cousins I've stayed with in St. Austell. We saw the Project in 2001 when we went over for the Cornish Dewellans, and I visited it again in 2007, but I see from your photos that you have been there more recently than that. The Lost Garden of Heligan was fascinating, too.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Ah, my! I'm really at a loss for words. I try to learn something new, each day, as a Life-Long Learner… I really learned a lot from this Hub. Thank you, so much, for sharing with each of us! ;-)

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      DrBill - I'm most pleased that you found a trip to the Eden Project and you found it a learning process too. I'm with you - I learn something every day reading here on hub pages. I appreciate your comments.

    • travmaj profile image
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      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Blossom - I see you have pleasant memories of the Eden project too - it really is a remarkable place and keeps on evolving. I envy you your visit to Heligan - on the rather overflowing bucket list. Thank you for commenting.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 2 years ago from Hudson, FL

      This must be an amazing place to visit. So relaxing! That grass woman looks cool and a little bit spooky :) Thanks for sharing!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hi Radcliff - It is amazing and such a pleasure to visit. Glad you enjoyed the visit with me.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Hi travmaj: This is an amazing and fascinating place. I have never heard of this until reading this article. I think it is good that they are preserved 'green' in this biosphere. I fear that we are going to loose all our natural land as developments and companies take over and build, build, build. If we don't heed the message from this biosphere we will lose all our natural ground outside. Wonderful hub and I am so glad you brought this to our attention! Voted up+ and shared.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      suzzette - thank you, the Eden Project goes from strength to strength, always aware and dedicated to the environment. It really is a remarkable place and deserves any attention. It is certainly a refreshing approach - pleased you enjoyed the visit.

    • liesl5858 profile image

      Linda Bryen 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi! travmaj, another beautiful hub you have written on the Eden Project. My husband and I visited the Eden Project a few years back and it really is a beautiful place to visit. It had all the tropical plants like coffees and banana trees. and many more to see and enjoy. As if I was visiting the place again reading your hub.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Linda - how are you? Thank you for your lovely comments, I'm happy that you enjoyed a second visit to the Eden Project - it is amazing. I've been travelling for weeks and then health problems but I'm almost ready to be back on track on here. Thanks again

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Wonderful information and amazing pictures!

      This Eden Project Cornwall in England, looks like a really amazing place to visit. An educational trip indeed. I enjoyed going through the details of this green, global garden. The picture of the Seed and the grass woman is eyecatching.

      Thanks for sharing this interesting hub, voted up!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Chitrangada thank you and I'm happy you enjoyed this visit to the Eden Project.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      The grass woman is a little creepy but everything else seems cool! I don't know if it is practical to try to preserve rare plants in this way but it would be cool if it were.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      poetryman - Thank you - I don't know about the practicalities but it certainly seems to be a winner - commercially I know but so much to offer in knowledge and understanding of plants around the world, and so much more. Thanks again

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We need more projects such as this. This is a very educational place to visit with kids.

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      aesta - Yes, this is an ongoing project and a fabulous day out for families. Thank you, appreciate you comments.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 2 years ago from Texas

      Fascinating! Voted up, awesome, interesting and shared! :)

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Suzanne - thank you so much - appreciate your interest and votes etc. Thank you.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 2 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      That an amazing place! It almost gives me a sense of calm, knowing that there are people in this world who can really prove that we can save and bring back what Mother Nature has given us. I would love to see this place someday!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      Hello Sheila - lovely to have you visit the Eden Project. I agree with your sense of calm and also I love it still being a project - it means they never stop searching and researching and working with nature and all it has to offer. Thank you so much, hope you see it one of these days.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 23 months ago from Oklahoma

      What an extraordinary project! Just beautiful.

      Wonderful article!

    • travmaj profile image
      Author

      travmaj 23 months ago from australia

      Thanks Larry, the Eden Project is certainly extraordinary - what I like about it is that it keeps evolving. It will always be a project. So much to see and consider.

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