I’m not intuitively either a green, Eco warrior or lover of plants or shrubs so the idea of spending 4 hours in the company of these did not fill me with much enthusiasm. However on a rainy day other attractions were not at my disposal so I joined the trip to the Eden project at St Austell.
The project is the brain child of music impresario Sir Tim Smit and breathtaking in its scope and execution. A huge area, formerly a crater, was excavated and now holds two massive biomes housing tropical and Mediterranean plants and trees as well as an educational area and main block with shop and cafe. The rainforest biome could contain the Tower of London. It is also a charity and every year except that of the Olympics here, where the number of tourists were over-calculated, it has made a surplus of roughly £2m which is ploughed back into the project.
It’s really about our relationship with nature and our excellent guide was a mine of interesting information. There is, for example, one section, fenced off, which contains cannabis plants. In medieval times it was an offence NOT to grow cannabis as hemp was the constituent of rope vital for maritime life. It was not till much later that its other commercial constituents which were rivals to oil resulted in the oil industry lobbying its ban. Our guide pointed out the pharmaceutical qualities of numerous plants and shrubs.
The rain forest biome was rather humid and I have to say I tired quickly in need of some liquid, like a large vodka and biogradable tonic. The visitors were piling in as it’s a logical venue in a wet Cornish afternoon. One elderly group of emphysema suffere are admitted free every Tuesday and it was full of school parties both English and foreign. There was no denying its educational resources and ambitions. It brings employment and revenue to an impoverished county that once had tin mines and a thriving smuggling industry on which customs levied were huge till duty was introduced.
I left with greater understanding and empathy for the botanical world. Now for a coolling beer. Organic and biogradable of course.