Once upon the time there was a big pit in the ground that was the result of years and years of making porcelain. It looked like a sad piece of nature, and no one could really see its worth in the current state. But then there was this man who didn’t see what it was right now, but instead what it could become.Where everyone else saw a giant hole, he saw the perfect spot to build the largest dome greenhouses the world had ever seen. Create a world of its own with bits and pieces from the different climates and parts of its own. The dream was to create a 7th wonder and while I don’t think that it quite can live up to that, it’s still a remarkable place.
The Eden project aim to inspire and educate the people to take care of the earth for the future and help us realise that “we are a part of nature, not apart from nature”. They have two large domes which represent the Mediterranean and tropic climates, an educational center and large gardens surrounding it all. We were happy to see that they were living as they preach by taking the environmental aspect into account in both the construction (e.g. using compressed earth walls) and the ongoing operations (e.g. collecting rain water used in all the toilet facilities). They also serve ecological (and a lot of vegetarian) food in the many restaurants.
We started by exploring the Mediterranean dome. Everyone who have been to the Med knows that during most seasons it is a rather sparse landscape with olive trees, some bushes and herbs mostly. We enjoyed walking around and looking at the signs describing each plants, trying to remember it for the coming months we hope to spend in this climate.
They put a great deal of thought in the design of gardens, incorporating parts of the style/architecture common in the countries which climate they imitate. They also have artwork and sculptures related to the issues they are trying to convey. Like the artwork below, a sculpture of the god Dionysos who started off as a symbol for harvest and fertility, but also for “ritual madness” and what happens when you drink too much wine… 🙂 The human does a lot of great things, but also has a destructive side that mother earth is right now paying the price for.
The details of the plants are fascinating. So many of the plants we use for houseplants indoors in Sweden you can see here in its full size and bloom. Different types of aloe vera, herbs and palm trees everywhere you look.
After a nice lunch with the same Mediterranean theme, we were ready to enter the tropical dome. As you enter you can directly feel the warmth and humidity, and the further you go the “worse” it gets. Clothes off!
The tropical dome is the largest one and you get the feeling that you have walked into a tropical rainforest. It´s not only plants here. They have a waterfall that continues as a small stream throughout the greenhouse and into a small pond. They also have different types of species that are good for the plants such as ants, birds and lizards.
Here you can see how bananas, cashews, cacao and other types of food we eat grow and learn how rubber is made. There are exhibitions with different themes, such as how the increased use of palm oil affects the rainforest.
Through a set of stairs, you can get all the way to the top of the greenhouse where you can see the whole “forest” from a platform. When we started climbing the stairs it was 33 degrees, but at the top it was 38 degrees and they actually closed the platform after we left because it was getting too hot up there. The humidity is intense! But the view was quite astonishing. I think you can see from the photo above what a huge greenhouse this is (see the tiny people walking down on the pathways?)
Now humidity is something we are constantly battling on the boat, but in the Eden shop I found something that I hope could flourish in our home – air plants! Surviving only on air, mist and rainwater (no soil) they usually hang about in the rainforest, sometimes attached to other trees. The Eden shop had a nice selection of plants, books, ecological gifts and gadgets that help you explore nature in different ways.
So is Eden worth a visit? Well first of all you should be interested in plants and nature. There is a lot to learn and enjoy as you pass through the gardens both inside and outside the domes. If you haven´t been to the climates represented in the domes it is an exciting experience just to get a realistic experience of what that is like. Even though we knew what Eden was all about it was quite impressive to walk around in the domes and see the landscape they have made. What we didn’t expect was how huge the tourist part of the place was. The many restaurants, shops and all the things surrounding the gardens had a very commercial feel to it that we didn’t appreciate in the same way. But if it helps people to enjoy and appreciate mother nature in another way, why not?