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The eden project
The eden project
Inside the greenhouse

Eden Project

Thursday, October 2, 2003
Ben visits the world's largest greenhouse - the global garden for the 21st century.

Cornwall has a wonderful coastline of high, jagged cliffs and pretty inlets sheltering little fishing villages. It likes to emphasise its separateness from the rest of the country and its cultural roots are indeed different. It was the Celts' last bastion in England after they were driven back by the Saxons. Their language survived until the late 18th century and efforts are being made to revive it.

In summer, Cornwall's seaside resorts are packed. The larger resorts of Bude, Newquay, Falmouth, Penzance and St Ives, which is particularly beautiful, can become very crowded. The coastal path is a 42km marked trail and is popular with walkers and cyclists.

Cornwall's Eden Project is a scientific foundation which aims to highlight the human race's dependency on plant life. It is in a disused china-clay pit a couple of kilometres west of Fowey, overlooking St Austell Bay, and is both educational and an environmental showcase. The original Garden of Eden is a symbol of both paradise and humankind's rejection. Cornwall's is an example of modern technology. Horticulturists made 85,000 tonnes of topsoil and concocted several recipes suitable for all plants.

The vast geodesic dome is one kilometre long and 60 metres high, with constant temperatures thanks to solar heat in three conservatories, which are called biomes. They emulate humid tropics, the warm temperate and outdoors. A dry tropics biome will be opened in 2004. The windows, which can be opened for ventilation, were installed by a team of 22 professional abseilers. It is an engineering and architectural feat, with no internal supports.

The three biomes contain thousands and thousands of plant species in over 80 major themed exhibits. The aim is to explain the social, political and religious importance of the plants and the industries they have created.

They have not concentrated on rare exotica, but mostly the common plants of the world, those used and depended upon in everyday life. There are also some birds, lizards, geckos and tree frogs.

The humid tropics biome is the world's largest greenhouse, measuring 240 by 110 metres and 50 metres high. It could house the Tower of London. The higher you go the hotter it gets. So hot, that for those not used to that sort of climate, there are emergency exits, water fountains and a cool room in the West African section.

It takes you on a journey through Malaysia, West Africa, South America and some tropical islands. There are displays of plants responsible for cola, chocolate, chewing gum, lipstick and rubber.

The warm temperate biome covers Mediterranean regions, parts of California, Australia, South Africa and Chile and grows tobacco, cotton, olives, grapes and cork.

The outdoor biome includes displays of beer and brewing, hemp, tea, wheat and sunflowers.


Cornwall in the south-west of England


Eden Project entry costs around $25 for adults, $10 for children and $61 for a family of five.
Qantas flies daily to London, with prices starting at $2372 from Melbourne, $2380 from Perth, $2382 from Brisbane and Darwin, $2388 from Adelaide and $2392 from Sydney, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.

More information

Eden Project
Bodelva, St Austel
Cornwall PL24 2SG UK
Ph: 44 0 1726 811 911
Fax: 44 0 1726 811 912

Qantas: 13 13 13

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