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The Eden Project

Wednesday, Aug 3, 2011

You may well be familiar with the distinctive sight of The Eden Project, where a disused clay mine near St Austell plays host to two large biomes and acres of manicured gardens. Certainly not something you see everyday!

But it is not until you visit the sight itself and experience its many facets that you really get a sense of what this place is all about.

As the brain-child of Tim Smit, creator of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Eden Project is driven by the aim to both entertain and educate – a balance it strikes quite brilliantly.

Visitors (of which there have been more than 8 million since the doors opened in March 2001) are encouraged to learn about our relationship with nature. In order to do so, you are left free to wander through the two huge biomes, which together contain more than a million plants.

For many, the Rainforest Biome is a particular highlight. Housing the largest jungle in captivity, it features masses of tropical plants, a waterfall and a new canopy lookout – a raised platform that takes you above the treetops. Some may even witness the rainforest balloon, a helium filled balloon which carries gardeners up to the higher reaches of the rainforest. Quite a novel way to do a spot of pruning!

The Mediterranean Biome is, however, no less fascinating. Offering a taste of the world’s temperate regions, it is a delight on all the senses. Take in the sights of the Bacchanalian sculptures, breathe in the natural scents in the perfume vats and discover the benefits of the sprouting Aloe Vera plants.

And the fun doesn’t stop there! The Core is an education centre with interactive displays, teaching you about everything from evolution to eco-systems. By night, this space transforms into an arts and music venue, hosting a variety of acts throughout the year.

What’s more, there’s local produce to taste, artwork to marvel at, gorgeous garden displays to walk through, and even a free land train run on bio-fuel to ride on. Really, it is no wonder The Eden Project is the third most visited attraction in the UK.

But with so much to do, you may worry that you won’t fit it all in to one day. However, this need not be a problem, as instead of paying the daily admission price, simply make a donation to the Eden Trust (which is the same amount as a ticket). This gives you an annual pass, meaning you can enjoy all The Eden Project has to offer for an entire year. Well worth it, I think you will agree!

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