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This week’s Plant Record

May 27, 2010
Author: Chris

(For a bit of fun, every Friday our Plant Records Manager, Chris Bisson, the guy who maintains all the recorded information on our plant collections, will do a regular blog slot where he recommends his favourite “plant records” – that is, songs that are in some way linked to a plant. (Do you see what we did there?) )

‘The King of Rock n Roll’ – Prefab Sprout (1988)

Sprouts (Brassica oleracea Gemmifera Group), you either love ‘em or hate ‘em! Basically they are mini cabbages! sprouting as green leafy buds, full of vitamins, folic acid and fibre. A member of the mighty Brassicaceae Family, we have loads of different types of Brassicas here at Eden.

This classic record makes reference to a washed-up ’50s star who is only remembered for his  one hit novelty song, which is sung in the chorus. Ironically, it  remains as the band’s biggest success in their native UK, where it reached #7 on the UK Singles Chart.

Which Brassica is your favourite?

Chris Bisson – Plant Records Manager – Eden Project

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Eden at Chelsea

May 24, 2010
Author: Ben

Homeless people and prisoners on day release have created the biggest garden ever seen at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Five hundred people supported by 43 homelessness agencies and 50 from eight prisons have teamed up with gardeners from the Eden Project to grow and plant the Places of Change garden, led by award-winning designer Paul Stone.

With its forest garden and traditional woodland hut alongside a range of trees and foraging plants, it is proving a magnet for early visitors – including some top celebrities – to the world’s most famous flower show, which officially opens tomorrow (Tuesday May 25).

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Community, Events, Experience, Horticulture, Inspiration, Tourist attraction

The Big Launch!

May 24, 2010
Author: Hannah

blog-big-lunch-launch

This weekend saw The Big Lunch launch in London with a spectacular 3D image by world-famous 3D artist Kurt Wenner.

The five-by-five metre 3D masterpiece, took a total of four hours to create and sees giant sandwiches, fruit, cakes, burgers, buns and cups of tea breaking free from a Big Lunch table and “floating up” into the hands of the surrounding Big Lunchers. Kurt said “The scene I have created is vibrant, colourful and joyous, born from people of all walks of life coming together and enjoying the unique community and friendship feel of many Big Lunch events.” See how the image was made in this video, or watch an interview with Kurt Wenner.

Eden Project and Big Lunch co-founder Tim Smit who attended Friday’s launch told us, “We believe it’s important to see neighbours and communities come together to break down barriers and build bridges with each other. It’s time we realise that our streets are more than just pavements but solid foundations for our future happiness. Holding a Big Lunch is the perfect opportunity to take the first step towards this.”

The Big Lunch 2010 is now only eight weeks away, so if you’re inspired to take part, visit www.thebiglunch.com for more information.

 

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Community, Education, Environment, Events, Experience, Food, Fun, Inspiration

Friday Fun with Plant Records!

May 21, 2010
Author: Chris

(For a bit of fun, every Friday our Plant Records Manager, Chris Bisson, the guy who maintains all the recorded information on our plant collections, will do a regular blog slot where he recommends his favourite “plant records” – that is, songs that are in some way linked to a plant. (Do you see what we did there?) )

‘The Ghost of Stephen Foster’ – Squirrel Nut Zippers (1999)

Our Cashews are fruiting! The nut which we all know and love grows inside a kidney-shaped shell, attached to the ‘apple’ of the cashew. This fruit is edible but we don’t get it over here as the skin is very fragile, making it unsuitable for transport.

The Squirrel Nut Zippers are a band from the States, and this amazing video was put together by the same crew that did the Simpsons, watch, enjoy and dig the nuts!

Chris Bisson – Plant Records Manager – Eden Project

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VIP guests from Sarawak

May 21, 2010
Author: admin

Eden welcomed two very special visitors last Friday from Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo. Mutang a Kelabit tribesperson, politically exiled in Canada for 15 years, and  Balang who’s still living and working in Sarawak. Both had been visiting the extraordinary Bruno Manser Fund in Switzerland and kindly agreed to visit Eden to tell us their story.

Mutang, Balang and their volunteer workforce – made up of members of the horticulture and design teams – miraculously knocked up a typical Penan hut – using materials harvested entirely from the biome – in 8 hours flat. The hut would traditionally be used by nomadic family groups for about 4 months as their hunting and foraging base camp – but despite our very best efforts Mutang told me if he’d had a better labour force (i.e. a couple of Penan children) they could have made it in about half the time!

The happy team and the completed Penan hut made from Biome plants

The happy team and the completed Penan hut made from Biome plants.

Despite the, obviously, shoddy machete-wielding Cornish workers there were some real highlights for the team. Justine Quinn, Eden’s Interpretation Manager, said she’d never forget the sight of 6 “strapping young men” (her words, not mine) “playing tug o’ war” with a 25 m Rattan palm growing up the edge of the biome. The coiled rattan now sits proudly outside the hut waiting to be turned into furniture or other useful bits of kit!

In a powerful twist of irony the roof for the hut was made from fronds from the Oil Palm (Elaeis guineensis) that are planted opposite the hut. It’s the massive and relentless spread of Oil Palm in Borneo and much of Southeast Asia that has contributed so much to the sad plight of local people and other forest dwellers such as the Orangutan. Eden’s gathered quotes from many people involved in, or affected by, the Oil Palm story so make sure you read them next time you’re visiting.

This gecko jumped on John Nichol's shoulder while he was cutting fronds off the Oil Palms for making the roof.

This gecko jumped on John Nichol's shoulder while he was cutting fronds off the Oil Palms for making the roof.

John Nichol, Rainforest Biome Supervisor, told me: “It’s magical that we could make an entire dwelling out of materials harvested from our forest in just a few hours. I can’t think of any other place in the UK that could do this. But most importantly we all made some good new friends, and that’s what Eden’s all about.”

Mutang tightening the ropes holding the hut together.

Mutang tightening the ropes holding the hut together.

Mutang and Balang’s visit wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Bruno Manser Fund so please visit their website to find out more about how you can help the Penan people in their fight against deforestation and the spread of Oil Palm plantations. And don’t forget to come and enjoy the hut and its stories next to the rubber exhibit in the Biome.

Article by Dan Ryan

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Guardian’s coverage of Chelsea focuses on Eden’s Places of Change

May 19, 2010
Author: admin

The Guardian’s Ian Tucker writes about our Places of Change garden. Read on for the full article!

“”The appeal of horticulture for me is that at the beginning you have a flat canvas, a barren bit of land that no one has got any interest in, but you get your heads together and create something,” says Lee Emery.

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Emery, a 28-year-old homeless man, is explaining the appeal of getting involved in the Eden Project’s Place of Change garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show. He is a resident at Look Ahead Housing and Care, a supported housing scheme, and is one of 45 homelessness organisations that are contributing to Eden’s second year at the world famous flower show in SW3.

According to Howard Jones, director of human networks at Eden, building people’s skills is at the heart of the Chelsea garden, which is financially supported by the government-funded Homes and Communities Agency, the Department of Communities and Local Government, and the London Employer Accord.

“When they asked if we wanted to come back, we decided we would if more people could benefit. By agreeing to let us turn an area that has never been used for the largest ever garden we are able to do that,” he says.

So what about winning a gold? “Winning the silver last year made me realise how much recognition means to people who have never been rewarded by anything in their lives, so it would be wonderful to win a gold, but that’s not the be-all and end-all of the project. It’s first and foremost a skills programme,” says Jones.

As Emery says: “This will look good on my CV, not many people get the privilege to design something at Chelsea.”

Last year’s garden, the Key, won a coveted silver medal. This year, the collaboration between the Cornwall-based Eden Project and homelessness umbrella group, Homeless Link, is creating Chelsea’s biggest ever show garden, which at nearly 600 sq metres is more than twice the size of a normal plot, and will feature up to 10,000 plants.

In addition to the 400 homeless people taking part in the project, 100 prisoners from eight jails are also involved, including prisoners who attend an Eden Growing for Life project at Occombe farm in Devon.

Contributions include residents of three services in Kent, run by housing and care provider Stonham, preparing foliage for A Planted Man – a 10ft-high figure who will be covered with various medicinal plants attached to the body parts they are used to treat. The Salvation Army’s Salisbury House in St Helens has been cultivating wild flowers for a meadow area in the Chelsea garden, and women at Stonham’s Hull Women’s Service have been growing plants and carving a totem pole sculpture.”

These distinct elements will be used in a design that demonstrates how horticulture is at the centre of our lives, from food and industry, to enterprise and teamwork, says Eden’s garden designer Paul Stone.

Stone believes that gardening reaches the parts that other activities have trouble reaching, such as building self-esteem and confidence in the people taking part.

“Having the opportunity to create new life is something we all aspire to, and that’s what you do with horticulture. It’s that god-like opportunity to plant a seed and see it grow into something nothing like that seed,” he says. “It’s also the opportunity to create a piece of art. And to enjoy the feeling of doing a good day’s work – and these guys don’t get that opportunity, if people won’t employ them.”

This year, 95% of the homeless participants will gain a qualification or certificate in subjects such as garden design, woodwork and volunteering, or in media skills such as video filming or web publishing by producing content for the garden’s blog and internet site.

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This week’s Plant Record

May 14, 2010
Author: Chris

(For a bit of fun, every Friday our Plant Records Manager, Chris Bisson, the guy who maintains all the recorded information on our plant collections, will do a regular blog slot where he recommends his favourite “plant records” – that is, songs that are in some way linked to a plant. (Do you see what we did there?) )

‘Blue Orchid’ – White Stripes (2005)

Soon we will see the arrival of the orchids! Dactylorhiza praetermissa, the Southern Marsh-orchid will be appearing in our Wild Cornwall Exhibit. This orchid is not uncommon in the South West in the early summer months, look in hedgerows, dune slacks and wet fields, they’ve even been spotted on golf courses. With spikes of beautiful deep pink flowers these really do kick the summer off in style!

In the UK we often think of Orchids as being rare, but on a global scale they are actually one of the biggest plant families containing around 22,000 species!

Blue Orchid is the first track by the White Stripes from their album ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ and according to Jack White is the song that saved the album.

The Southern Marsh-orchid is one of many beautiful flowering natives, what’s flowering around you at the moment?

Chris Bisson – Plant Records Manager – Eden Project

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Friday fun… it’s Plant Records!

May 7, 2010
Author: Chris

(For a bit of fun, every Friday our Plant Records Manager, Chris Bisson, the guy who maintains all the recorded information on our plant collections, will do a regular blog slot where he recommends his favourite “plant records” – that is, songs that are in some way linked to a plant. (Do you see what we did there?) )

‘Pineapple Princess’ – Annette Funicello (1960)

The Pineapple (Ananas comosus) is one of the tastiest Bromeliads around! They don’t grow on trees but grow on the ground! Sweet, sticky and scrumptious!

Annette Funicello was originally discovered in 1955 by Walt Disney, and went on to star in many of the amazing beach-based film classics of the 60′s including ‘Beach Blanket Bingo’ and ‘Beach Party’

Hanging out on the beach and eating pineapples sounds like a cracking combination to me!

Have a great weekend!

Chris Bisson – Plant Records Manager – Eden Project

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