The last week of my summer holidays, and I was about to go on an adventure. I departed Middle England, and boarded a train mid morning. The journey would be long, but the following day I was going to The Eden Project. A number of friends and colleagues have visited, some with good reviews, some with not. The best thing to do, was to experience it myself.
It is the other side of the country from where I am, in fact on the edge of the country. The trek and accommodation was always going take up a lion’s share of the logistics. The entry for the day, seemed reasonable, given the large sprawling nature of the place. Getting there was simple enough, a return trip on a bus from St.Austell. I did go early, basically as soon as it opened. I really did want the most of it, and I would be spending the day there. A hoody and a pair of comfy boots were used to make things easier. As soon as I got there, the heavens opened and I got rained on. A lot. So I had to head to the biomes, through the zig zag gardens that slope down the sides of the former quarry. I did take a moment to take stock. That second picture up there, the one with the biomes, is astounding. And of course the money shot, used by the literature. Though when I sent it to Ma, she did say they were big green houses.
The may well be greenhouses in the most simplest sense, but the tableau does make you stop and think. Least of all about science fiction, and you are momentarily transported to Star Trek if you are that way inclined. There is no indication at that point, as to what is inside. A wonderful tease, if you haven’t done you research. I didn’t, quite deliberately. The premise was to go with a very open mind.
Going to the link between the two biomes,I had to think where I wanted to go first. I had breakfasted like a princess-half a cooked breakfast in not knowing what I would doing all day and I didn’t want to keel over too soon-so I was fed and watered. A little damp, and knowing that I would want feeding properly at lunch time, I headed to the rainforest.
A low probability exists, in me ever getting to trek through a rainforest. As far as simulations go, this was pretty close. The rainforest biome is hot, sweaty, and breath taking. And not just because of the humidity as required by the vast assortment of cultivation. The effect of being transported is immediate, least of all because of the ants that run around everywhere. They are everywhere, and that makes sense if they are one of the most populace of creatures on the planet. Least offensive though, they don’t bother you. They make the experience more real, if I am honest.
We see pictures and videos of rainforests, and this small cross section is a stark reminder of how big a body such as rainforest is. It is very difficult to appreciate.
Time was crucial in this biome. I did try to perambulate slowly, and as the forest tapers up and around; you do not do this slowly. There is a lot to take in; a whole universe of rainforest is effectively sampled and the data points collected to form what is called a ‘rainforest in captivity’. A phrase, that I’m made me feel a little uneasy. Captivity is a word we might associate with animals, protected for their own safety. Whilst I can see the idea being applied here, the assortment being protected and cared for. I am at odds with the idea of a rainforest being bundled into a biome as though a creature to be viewed through the figurative looking glass. Don’t get me wrong, there was life in that biome. I just don’t like the phrase ‘rainforest in Captivity.’
For the eager and fastidious student, there is a huge amount to learn. Careful study of the markers and the guide-a bit much at £6-is going to provide you with a wealth of information. Looking at the labels, does take time. Unless you speak to a very willing and well trained member of The Eden team, you do have to look and read to make your own judgements.
It is breathtaking, you travel the world without leaving the biome. Having walked around very slowly, there was of course the other biome.
Next, was the Mediterranean biome. This is more cute and cuddly compared to the rainforest biome. It also felt a little smaller, not taking as long, and causing me to question as to where the rest of it was. I did, admittedly, take a lunch time pit stop. I was in need of feeding, my brain was whizzing after the rainforest, and this mean stopping to reflect.I experienced something of a very eerie moment. Rain was scheduled anyway. So it fell, as I had lunch on the terrace. With the exception of a small hungry child, a silence descended on the whole biome. People stopped talking, there was a really cold heavy silence as the clouds gathered over the bioem. A very, very, strange sensation.
Once fed and watered, I did another wander around the second biome. This time, focusing on the chillies, the vineyard and The Roman Garden. The chillies were epic, arguably the envy of the world’s Chilli heads. I took solace in the fact that some of the varieties sown and grown there, were also in my poly tunnel albeit on a smaller scale. It helps, that I know who the seed supplier is. I didn’t pick any, as I was a bit unsure of the rules, and I think they are probably used in the kitchens there.
Sunflowers carpeted part of the area and were a welcome drop of sunshine. The vineyard with it’s sculptures of Dionysus and friends. You cannot miss the big strapping bull, that looks as though he is about to go on a rampage. According to mythology, he is of course a little drunk and full of the carousing spirit. Then there was The Roman Garden. I may not be the biggest fan of this historical time frame; but I did learn something. All the things you might expect on your allotment, the kitchen garden, your cottage garden; has a distinctly Roman heritage.
The seed. The last phase of my exploration was The Core. The central part is this. A huge piece of Cornish stone, hewn down to form this knobbly edifice. I peered in, to take the picture; but felt compelled to pass my hand over the sculpted form. Another slightly surreal Star Trek moment.
I was conscious of not taking too may photographs. Not just because you can put the name into a search engine and find lots of images. If I did that, what would encourage you to actually go?
Not taking more and hundreds of images, was about absorbing the persona experience of the whole thing. Not everyone is a gardener, with horticultural tendencies. One person’s rose bush, might be another’s pernicious weed. You cannot account for experience and perception. I went with an open mind, and there were many parts that resonated with me. So to take loads and loads of photos, would perhaps have diluted the would be perception of others.
I had a good day. Try it.