It’s National Tree Week, so why not try these simple outdoor activities in school, or with your own family, to get kids learning through trees? The tree activities touch on art, science and maths - and they're fun.
Activity 1: Bark rubbing
Even when trees have no leaves, you can still enjoy their shape and their wonderful bark. This is a good time to take bark rubbings. Press a sheet of thick paper against the tree and rub a wax crayon or soft charcoal over the page to produce an interesting pattern.
Activity 2: Tell the age of a tree
Because a tree grows quickly in the summer, then more slowly in the winter, the trunk builds up layers of annual growth rings. Find a tree that has been cut down, or even a log, and count the number of rings to work out how old it is. Can you find the ring which shows the year you were born?
Tree Fact: Did you know…? Trees are the oldest (and some of the largest) living things on Earth. The oldest living tree in the world is reckoned to be the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine in the US – getting on for 5,000 years old! Here in the UK, there are yew trees still going strong at 2,000 years old.
Activity 3: Work out the height of tree
This is a great activity for a maths class. Kids basically are invited to find a tall tree and work out its height.
What you need:
Just a tape measure or measuring stick, a straight stick, a friend and a tree. You will not need a ladder, long rope, giraffe or even trampoline!
How to do it:
- Closing one eye, hold the stick vertically in front of you at arm’s length. Stepping backwards and forwards, with one eye still shut, line up the stick with the bottom and top of the tree until it appears the same height as the tree.
- Stand still at this point and turn the stick 90 degrees so it is horizontal. Line up one end of the stick with the bottom of the tree trunk.
- Keep standing still and keep the same eye closed. Ask your friend to stand by the tree and then walk out sideways, level with the tree (not towards or away from you) until they appear at the other end of your stick. Tell them to stay right there.
- Run over with the tape measure and measure the distance between him or her and the tree. This will be the height of the tree. It works for houses and other tall things too.
Tree fact: Did you know…? The world’s largest trees are the Giant Sequoias of California, which grow to an average height of 50-85m and average diameter of 6-8m. The record was 94.8m high and 17m in diameter. If it helps, that’s roughly the same height as Big Ben!
Bid on signed memorabilia from David Cameron, Joanna Lumley and James Wong in Eden’s charity auction
Our eBay charity auction has now closed. Thank you for helping us raise over £3,000 for our educational projects.
We’ve got some really unusual lots in our charity auction this Christmas: a signed doodle by Prime Minister David Cameron, a visionary sketch of the future by Joanna Lumley, and the treasured book from James Wong’s childhood that seeded his interest in gardening.
Running from 6 - 16 December 2012, this is your chance to pick up some exclusive items, some unusual Christmas presents – and to support Eden's transformational charity projects.
We’ve even got signed Evita lyrics from musical legend Sir Tim Rice and a piece of artwork by singer-song writer Seth Lakeman.
Christmas shopping opportunity
The charity auction is not only a great place to pick up some exclusive celebrity signed artwork, doodles and memorabilia, but a fantastic opportunity to do some Christmas shopping.
The lots include special gift experiences such as wine tasting for two at London’s historic Berry Bros, lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant, and a spa day at Cornwall’s Fowey Hall.
Or if you fancy something at the Eden Project itself, there’s a Become a Gardener for the Day experience, a Chocolate and Chilli private guided tour for two in our Rainforest Biome, and – for the thrill-seekers – an adventure day on our rock climbing wall and zipwire.
There is also a fantastic spread of original pieces of artwork created especially for the charity auction by established illustrators and designers, including well-known Cornish painter Kurt Jackson, and the eminent Peter Randall-Page, creator of Eden Project’s Seed sculpture.
Finally, we’ve popped in some exclusive Eden Project gift hampers from our own ethical shop, which are perfect for Christmas presents. These include a chocolate feast set for the chocoholic in your life, a gardener’s delight collection, plus an Eden-themed pack which features a signed copy of Tim Smit’s Eden book.
Support our charity work
We’ve put together this collection so that you can help us ‘give the gift of inspiration’, by supporting our charitable projects. As an educational charity we believe that inspiring people to realise they can make a difference, and giving them the tools to do so, is the key to all our futures.
Our transformational projects include starting community gardening schemes in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, facilitating inspirational days out for excluded young people, growing a new generation of much-needed horticultural apprentices, and creating unique learning experiences in our ‘living classroom’. Find out about our projects.
How to take part in the auction
You can give the gift of inspiration to a new generation of people by bidding in our eBay auction from 8pm Thursday 6 December until 8pm Sunday 16 December, when we will include a link to our live auction from this blog post.
So why has a sea of 1,000 white gnomes appeared in the middle of the Eden Project?
They call themselves the Keepers of the Ice, and they’ve come here to help show visitors how climate change is affecting Arctic ice.
Laid out in the form of a map of the Arctic region, some of them will disappear each week over a six-week period – to represent Arctic ice melt.
A key cooling system for the planet, Arctic sea ice has declined by more than a third over the for summer Arctic sea ice.
The good news is that, every weekend, visitors have the chance to get involved in the art installation and pledge to do something to reverse the melt. There’ll be the chance to take home a gnome in return for your pledge – simply have a chat with one of the volunteers manning the Arctic Gnome.
For example, you could pledge to turn off unneeded lights, to put a jumper on to warm yourself up rather than reaching for the thermostat, or to jump on your bike for short journeys instead of driving.
The gnomes told us: ‘We want to protect this special garden… Join us as we celebrate the ice and what it means to us all. You may even be able to take one of us home!’
If you can’t make it to Eden to see the art installation you can still take part online, uploading a photo of yourself with a garden gnome to the Arctic Gnome’s Facebook page or the Arctic Gnome website, or simply follow the Arctic Gnome on Twitter.
About the installation
The Arctic Gnome is part of our Slow Art Programme – a collection of long-term public engagement art projects commissioned to respond to Eden’s unique site.
The installation has been conceived by media agency Bullet Creative, and the original Arctic Gnome figurine, depicted sitting on top of a Biome, was designed by Eden’s very own designer-maker Elly Voisin – before being cast in clay 1,000 times!
Visit the Arctic Gnome exhibition
You can visit the installation, just near the ice rink, every day during Eden open hours – up to and including Sunday 6 January 2012. You can make an environmental pledge – with the chance of taking home a gnome – when the exhibition is manned, between 2.30 and 6pm each Saturday and Sunday.
Last month nearly 10,000 people joined the Cornwall Together collective buying scheme to save money on their energy bills.
Pioneered by The Eden Project, NHS and Cornwall Council, the initiative has helped around 70% of those households to save reduce their costs, by negotiating with utility suppliers to get a better deal.
Some members say they've saved over £450 - and Cornwall Together has calculated that 86% of dual fuel customers could save an average of £150.
The auction winners were E:ON, OVO and British Gas, who put in market leading bids across six categories. A range of offers have been sent to members, including a Cornwall Together deal, a renewable energy tariff, and – if there's a better deal on the market – the cheapest plan available.
Where possible, Cornwall Together has also included a 'fixed' deal to offer the security of fixed rates in these times of price volatility.
If you’re part of the scheme, you’ve got until Sunday 25 November 2012 to switch your power supply and benefit from these special deals.
If you missed out this time, Cornwall Together will be offering future collective buying opportunities. Sign up to the scheme at www.cornwalltogether.com
We’re delighted to announce the arrival of our new British edible bouquets for Christmas. With fresh bay, chillies, rosemary and purple sage, our festive winter collection is fantastically fragrant. So your house will not only look stunning but smell amazing as well.
All of our bouquets, wreaths and centrepieces are freshly picked to order from a wonderful farm just up the road. Carefully hand-tied by hand by florists, these bouquets are the perfect thoughtful gift with a twist. What's more, all of our flowers have free delivery, so why not order your flowers in advance and arrange to have them delivered on a date that suits you?
Decorate a mantelpiece, banister or dinner table with this festive runner. Festooned with chillies, bay and rosemary, you'll have both the perfect Christmas decoration and a mini-herb garden without having to leave the house.
Our aromatic wreath is an Eden twist on that classic decoration.
Calming lavender gives a beautiful colour and scent - the perfect gift for a busy household. Our fragrant chilli bouquet consists of fiery chilli peppers, purple sage, rosemary and bay all lovingly hand-tied for a colourful high-impact display. Great for those who love to cook, as the herbs can be dried and used beyond Christmas to add flavour to any meal.
Spread the love with additional treats
Make someone's Christmas even merrier by adding an extra something to their bouquet. Add a bottle of wine or our unique Eden Project chocolate collection. These chocolates contain a range of unusual flavours including hot chilli, sea salt, coffee and orange.
With love from the Scillies
Imagine that - spring flowers in the middle of winter! The location of the Isles of Scilly's mild climate, means they're able to grow certain flowers earlier than on mainland UK. This means we're able to offer you this 100 stem narcissi bouquets throughout the winter months.
With Father Christmas taking up temporary residence at Eden this winter as he prepares for the big day, it’s only right that he’d bring his reindeer along with him. We’ve built a special pen to make it nice and cosy for the reindeer.
Come along and see them: they’ll be here to meet every day from 23 November to 30 December (except 24 and 25 December, when they'll be very busy!). The opportunities to meet Father Christmas at Eden this Christmas are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment. Book online here
See if you can spot the reindeer on our live webcam.
- Father Christmas’s sleigh is, of course, pulled by flying reindeer. He lives at the North Pole, in the natural habitat of reindeer, so it’s natural that he’d choose them to pull his sleigh.
- Their names – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen – were first mentioned in in Clement C Moore’s poem “The Night Before Christmas” (also known as “A Visit from St Nicholas”) in 1823. It wasn’t until 1939 that Rudolph was mentioned in a poem written by Robert L May for a chain of American department stores.
- Reindeer have been herded in the Arctic for centuries by indigenous peoples such as the Sami. You can hear traditional Sami stories being told in a beautiful lavvu tent next to the reindeer pen at Eden this winter.
- Reindeer are known as caribou in North America.
- The soft fur on reindeer antlers is called velvet.
Welfare of the reindeer at Eden
The reindeer have been brought to Eden by Real Reindeer, who are committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare.
Angie Flint, of Real Reindeer, says: “Our herd originates from a large herd of reindeer kept by our friends in northern Sweden. The reindeer begin the domesticating and taming process in Sweden to ensure that their journey to the UK is not too stressful. We transport them ourselves to ensure their specific requirements are met.
“Our reindeer adapt extremely well to the UK climate. Although they are able to withstand the extremes of temperature in the Arctic Circle, they moult their winter coat in the spring and have a much finer summer coat.
“In northern Sweden the summer is very similar to ours with temperatures reaching approximately 28ºC. At our farm the reindeer have a range of paddocks and 24-hour access to a 17th century stone dovecote, which stays wonderfully cool with the thick stone walls.
“Reindeer husbandry is a very specialised skill and as such bears enormous responsibility on the herder. We have supported the Veterinary Laboratories Association on the production of articles about reindeer ownership in the UK.
“All reindeer should have bright eyes, well cared for feet and a shiny coat. At events, they should be relaxed enough to lie down, eat and drink. This means they have been trained correctly. We meet many people all over the country who comment that our reindeer are the healthiest looking they have seen.
“We are also supported by committed vets who have worked with us to acquire essential knowledge in the treatment and care of reindeer in the UK.
“We feed the reindeer a very specific diet, which is controlled by their handlers, so we’re asking visitors to Eden to not feed them anything else, please!”
This refreshing winter salad recipe includes handfuls of wild brooklime leaves, which have a wonderfully bitter taste. If you enjoy the dish, join Eden foraging expert Emma Gunn in one of our courses.
You’ll find this succulent herb growing in the damp soil around streams and ditches. It has large, rounded leaves and thick, juicy stems that are both creeping and upright. Between May and September it displays pairs of blue or pink flowers.
Always take a good field guide with you – and read Emma’s golden rules of foraging, below – before you go.
Deep fried breaded Camembert with winter salad and honey and mustard dressing
Ingredients (serves two)
- 2 good handfuls of Veronica beccabunga, well washed
- 1 good handful hairy bittercress, plus any other salad leaf you’d like to add
- 10-12 x 2cm cubed pieces of Camembert
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 pieces of bread, whizzed in to breadcrumbs
- oil to deep fry
- 1 apple or pear, cored and cut into slices (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp runny honey
- 1 tsp mustard (Emma uses American mustard)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- sea salt
- black pepper
- Heat the oil ready for deep frying.
- Dust the chunks of Camembert with flour, then coat them in beaten egg, and finally toss them in the breadcrumbs.
- Cook the Camembert in batches – however many you can fit in your pan – until golden, and leave to drain on kitchen paper.
- Meanwhile, combine the ingredients to make the dressing.
- Divide the washed salad leaves between the plates, place the Camembert on top, add the apple or pear slices if you wish, and then drizzle with the dressing.
Emma Gunn, a member of Eden’s Green Team, is running a series of one-day foraging courses throughout the winter, until March 2013. The foraging courses will introduce you to what’s available in our hedgerows and wild places, as well as to some easy recipes.
The day is centred around a guided walk of Eden’s wilder perimeter (where you’ll get to have a nibble), followed by a food sampling session back in the classroom.
Emma’s golden rules of foraging
- Choose easily recognisable plants
If you’re new to foraging, don’t choose plants that are easily confused with others. Some plants can be poisonous, especially mushrooms, so don’t risk it. As foraging guru Richard Mabey wrote in his brilliant Food for free book, ‘Indigestion brought on by uncertainty about whether you have done yourself in can be just as uncomfortable as real food poisoning!’
- Invest in a good field guide
Take along a guide that includes illustrations or photos, as well as Latin names. These botanical names can give great clues about the plant, such as its habitat. For example, the suffix montana means it grows in the mountains, maritimus denotes that it is found on the coast, halimus in the dunes, while officinalis shows that it is a medicinal plant.
- Keep hygiene in mind
Avoid picking plants which may be dirty or polluted. For example, pick from areas away from the road. Also, don’t gather from low down along a path, where dogs or livestock may have brushed past. Don’t forage straight after a heavy rainfall, when plants in the ground - and shellfish - may be contaminated with run-off from the fields, which can contain chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Always give your leaves, flowers, fruit, nuts and roots a good wash before use.
- Don’t be greedy
Remember, you’re sharing nature’s harvest with wildlife too, so don’t take all of it. Also, be careful not to damage plants. If you only need the leaves, don’t pull them up by the roots; use a pair of secateurs. That way there’ll be lots more to harvest next year too.
- Remember where you found it
Make a note of the lane, field or beach where you found the plant, so that you can come back to that hotspot next year as well.
We'll be welcoming a very special visitor this winter: Father Christmas himself! He'll even be bringing some real reindeer along for our visitors to meet.
He's decided to come to Eden for a bit of peace and quiet before the busiest day of his year. Watch this video to see him planning out what he'll be doing while he's here:
Don't miss the chance to meet Father Christmas and his reindeer. He'll be at Eden on various dates between 23 November and 23 December 2012. Find out more and how to book here.
With Christmas around the corner, now is the time to think about planning the perfect gifts for your nearest and dearest. Everyone knows that the most special gifts are personal, laced with thought and have a nice story that you can share.
That's why we've created a gift service, so you can build your own personal gift bag through our online shop. All you have to do is select the products that you think would make a lovely collection for someone, and opt for gift wrapping when you get to the checkout.
We'll then pop it all in a lovely Eden Project jute bag, designed by Sarah Wilson, one of our resident artists. We'll tie it up with a red ribbon, and pop a gift tag on it with your message. You might be a hundred miles away from someone, but you can still make their day with one of these thoughtful, hand-picked personalised gift bags.
With this new service online, it got us thinking about what combinations our team will be putting together for our friends and family. Shhh, promise not to tell anyone, but here's what we'll be giving this Christmas:
Brenda, shopping for her neighbour who makes the best cakes
"My neighbour, Sue, always has something delicious in the oven, and we've enjoyed many afternoons tasting her yummy cakes. As a self-professed chocoholic, she'll love trying out these brownie recipes. The oven mitt will look great in her country-kitchen, and these fair trade chocolates complete the gift. I know she'll be delighted."
Harry, shopping for her Uncle in Scotland
"I'm going to order my uncle these hot chilli sauces, as he can't get enough of spicy foods. I'm chuffed that I can send a lovely present at the click of a button without having to wrap everything up and trek to the post office myself."
Peter, picking up a Christmas gift for his son
"My four year old is incredibly curious and wants to touch, listen and look at everything. He'll love squeezing this soft bamboo teddy, scraping this wooden frog for the gruff croaking sound, and shining this wind-up torch."
Tracey's present for her mum this Christmas
"I'm sending this gift bag to my mum in Norwich. She never seems to stop, whether she's digging up the garden or hiking in the countryside. I wish I could see her face when she puts on these merino wool hiking socks - they're so cushion-y soft. The gardening hand scrub will add a touch of luxury to her day. She deserves to relax, so hopefully the hot chocolate and the rhubarb and ginger candle will help her to unwind."
One of the joys of winter is being able to put your feet up by a roaring fire and snuggle down to a cosy evening in. After all, there's nothing wrong with having a little me time to slow things down and take in the treasures of life.
So put the kettle on and read our top picks from our webshop to help you relax into a cosy winter.
When the weather is chilly outside, there's nothing nicer than sinking into a hot bath. Make it even more luxurious by adding a scoop of one of our bath soaks. They leave you silky soft, lightly scented and totally relaxed. What's more, they're free from nasty chemicals too.
Put your hands around a steaming mug of hot chocolate and feel the winter woes drift away. Our range of four flavours is actually made up out of grated chocolate, which melts into a smooth rich drink. It's the best hot chocolate we've ever tasted.
Before you nudge the thermostat up another notch, drape one of these cotton throws around you first. Each one is handmade so is totally unique.
Fill your house with the smell of warm chocolate by baking up a tray of devilishly gooey brownies. This book is full of delicious recipes guaranteed to make your mouth water. The perfect activity for a rainy Sunday.
These candles not only shed a lovely light, they come in a range of unusual scents, from rhubarb and ginger, to wild fig and grape and even aloe vera and cucumber. So if you've had a long day and need to unwind, or maybe even create a romantic atmosphere *nudge nudge*, these candles are just the ticket.
Warm your cockles with a nice big glass of our smooth, full-bodied red wine. This is a great wine to partner a lazy Sunday casserole, or even just to be enjoyed by itself to welcome in the evening. The subtle cherry, vanilla and spice flavours are just what you need to melt away those winter woes.