How to draw a comic character – tips from Beano cartoonist Nick Brennan

May 16, 2014
Author: Guest

nick-brennan-100Cartoonist Nick Brennan will be at Eden for our Art of Stories Festival this May half-term running workshops on how to draw a comic character. Read on to find out some of his secrets!

An idea for a new character might come to you in a flash of inspiration, in a dream, perhaps you might have to draw a character that someone else has created in a script, or a character might appear out of a doodle. However it happens, it’s up to you to decide on what the character looks like. It might be based on somebody you know, or it might all come out of your own head. As I’m going to be visiting the Eden Project, I thought I’d draw a gardener! I had the idea of a large, stocky gardener tending a very small, delicate flower…

1. I started off by drawing some very rough shapes, in pencil, for his head and body. I also decided on a pose – my gardener watering his small flower with a watering can. Sometimes it can help to give your character a name, although I didn’t in this case.

character01 sml

2. Now that I’ve got a rough shape for my character, I can start to add some detail. I added his facial features, imagining him happy tending to his flower, and also added some clothes; a waistcoat and trousers held up with twine.

character02 sml

3. A bit more detail here. I’ve given him a hat and some boots, and I thought it would be fun to have a rabbit waiting to pounce on his flower as soon as his back was turned. Everything is still being drawn in pencil; so that if I make a mistake I can rub it out.

character03 sml

4. Why stop at one rabbit, I thought, and added a whole load more! While this isn’t exactly part of the design of the character, we can assume from this that he’s not the most observant of chaps!

character04 sml

5. I’m quite happy with how my character’s looking; so I’m going to start inking him in. Here is the first inking, and you can still see all the pencil lines I used in the rough drawing. You need to be careful here, because not all of the lines need to be inked in.

character05 sml

6. I’ve rubbed out all the pencil lines now, and am left with a nice clean inked picture (apart from the bit of line that I inked by mistake!).

character06 sml

7. All I’ve done here is thicken up some of the lines to define the main parts of my character. I’ve left some of the lines thinner to add some visual interest to the picture.

character07 sml

8. And now I’ve added some shadows (and managed to hide the line I inked by mistake at the same time) and little bits of detail, and my picture is finished…

character08 sml

9. … or is it? I thought that my gardener didn’t look quite daft enough, given that he’s totally oblivious to the multitude of rabbits that are waiting to scoff his little flower; so I thought I’d give him some silly teeth. Which I think has finished him off nicely.

character09 sml

10. For a final touch he’s coloured up digitally, and all I need to do now is decide on a name for him – any ideas?

character10 sml

Come and get more tips on drawing comic characters from Nick Brennan at the Eden Project’s Art of Stories Festival. Nick will be running workshops at the following times:

  • Saturday 24 – Thursday 29 May, and Sunday 1 June 2014 from 11am to 5pm


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Art, Creativity, How to
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Eden launches new apprenticeship scheme

May 12, 2014
Author: Hannah

We’re recruiting 20-25 apprentices to join us on the team!

These lucky people will learn an occupation through a combination of working at Eden and taking part in off-the-job training and development delivered with Cornwall College. The apprentices will work across six teams.

The new apprenticeship scheme is being run in partnership with The Cornwall College Group and its specialist Rural Environment arm Duchy College. The programme will see the paid apprentices working across a range of different teams including horticulture, vehicle maintenance, hospitality, the visitor experience, media and creative design.

The apprenticeships are open to motivated people aged 16 and over with any level of qualification, who are looking for a structured opportunity to learn and earn at the same time.

Eden’s apprenticeships will be full time, for a period of up to two years. Apprentices will be paid and expected to work 40 hours a week, which will generally be four days a week at Eden and one day in off-the-job training either at the College or on the Eden site.

Riyah Snow, Eden apprentice, sitting in the Mediterranean Biome

Riyah’s story

Riyah Snow (pictured), 21, is currently an apprentice in the Eden Project’s horticulture team, working four days a week at the project and one day at Duchy College’s Rosewarne campus.

By the time she has completed her course she will have gained a year of experience working in one of the UK’s most high-profile gardens as well as a Work-Based Horticulture City & Guilds Diploma Level 2.

Riyah is from St. Agnes in Cornwall. After completing her GCSEs at Richard Lander School in Truro, she did a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Art and Design at Truro College. As a keen gardener, she decided to change direction and start studying with a view to a career in horticulture.

Riyah said: ‘I knew I wanted to work in horticulture, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to specialise in. The Eden apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to work across lots of different areas – from tree-felling with the outer estates team to planting spring flowers and looking after tropical plants in the Biomes.

‘The apprenticeship scheme has worked out really well for me because it gives me vital job experience as well as a formal qualification.’

Open day, 17 May 2014

People who are thinking of applying or would like to know more can come along to an open day at Eden on Saturday 17 May 2014 from 10am to 2pm. The event is free to attend and will be held in Eden’s Gallery.

There will be an opportunity to meet members of the Eden and College teams to find out more about the work and courses. We will also be joined by Steven Gilbert MP to help us launch this event.

How to apply

Applications for the Eden Project apprenticeship scheme will be open from May 19 2014. Anyone who is interested in applying should visit or call the Eden Project recruitment line on 01726 811967.

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A day in the life of an Eden gardener

May 2, 2014
Author: Beth Flood-Fairlamb

Ever wondered what it’s like to work in a rainforest? At Eden, some of our horticulturalists do just that. We caught up with Eden gardener Lucy Wenger.


What’s the best bit about working in the Rainforest Biome?

That I get to work with people from different backgrounds who have been to different places all over the world. Because we can draw on everyone’s experiences we get an unbeatable knowledge of growing tropical plants in the most authentic ways. One gardener will know firsthand how coffee is grown in the Philippines, while someone else will know how it’s grown in Costa Rica.

It’s not all about forks and spades in the rainforest, is it; do you use machetes?

Yes! And chainsaws. We also go high up in the canopy on a cherry picker to prune and water our harder-to-reach plants. Sometimes, when we can’t manoeuvre the cherry picker into the right spot, I get to hang down from ropes attached 100 feet up in the air!

Do you have a favourite plant in the Biome?

I really like our jade vine, flowering in the Malaysian section at the moment, because it’s an amazingly vibrant colour and because it’s pollinated by bats. Other than that, my favourite plant is rice. Sounds really boring, but visitors are amazed by it because they’ve never actually had the chance to see or touch it before.


What’s it like working in that kind of heat every day?

We have to take things more slowly and make sure we’ve always got water on us. But the great thing is, if it gets too hot, we can just step outside into the Cornish air and buy an ice cream. You couldn’t do that if you were in a real rainforest!

Have you visited a real rainforest?

I have visited and worked in rainforests around the world. But you still can’t beat having our Rainforest Biome here. You walk inside and its sheer size and diversity – with all these tangly climbers – makes you feel like you’re in a real rainforest.


What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to do in your role?

For April Fool’s Day, Eden organised a stunt where we ‘discovered’ a new species of dinosaur in the Biome. It was my job to scrabble around on the ground and dig up dinosaur footprints. I had one of those moments where I thought, ‘I didn’t think I’d ever be doing this as part of a job!’

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Gardening, Horticulture, Plants

Carnivorous plants facts

April 30, 2014
Author: Beth Flood-Fairlamb

From specimens that snap shut to individuals that curl up, carnivorous plants are expert meat-eaters. This group of 400 or so species has cleverly adapted to living in poor soil – getting their nutrients from insects and the like instead. We take a look at five of the most fascinating…

Tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes)

Native to: Southeast Asia 

nepenthes-spectabilis-x-ventricosa-pitcher How it works:

The pitcher’s vase-like leaf produces and contains a sweet liquid in which the plant drowns its prey. Ants and flies are attracted to the plant’s colourful appearance and victims often make the lethal mistake of landing on its very slippery lip… Once inside, it’s nearly impossible to escape from the trap’s waxy coating. The plant is then able to digest the prey and extract is nutrients.

Eating habits:

The pitcher mostly feasts on insects such as ants and flies, but animals as big as rats and frogs have been known to accidentally fall into the pitcher!

Freaky fact:

Some insect larvae can thrive inside the pitcher’s trap, while animals such as frogs and bats use the plant’s lid structure to shelter themselves.

You can come and have a look at these clever plants at Eden! The Highland tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes spectabilis x ventricosa) grows in our Rainforest Biome.

Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

Native to: wetlands of east coastal US


How it works:

With leaves that snap shut as soon as prey touches their ‘trigger’ hairs, the Venus flytrap is one of the only plants on earth that moves right before your eyes! It’s still not confirmed how the flytrap actually moves, but it may be that it’s caused by an electrical current moving through the plant’s cellular structure.

Eating habits:

The flytrap eats a variety of insects and is especially fond of grasshoppers and spiders.

Freaky facts:

A flytrap leaf can snap shut in under a second! However, each leaf can only snap shut three to four times over the flytrap’s lifetime.

Despite its name, only about 5% of the flytrap’s diet actually consists of flies.

Interested in growing your own Venus flytrap? This handy seed kit has got everything you need to grow one.

Sundew (Drosera)

Native to: all continents except Antarctica 


How it works:

Often described as ‘living flypaper’, the sundew has tentacle-like leaves which are covered in sticky, glandular hairs. The plant’s tacky secretion gives off a sweet scent, which attracts insects. Once an insect is stuck to its leaf, the sundew will curl inwards to start digesting its prey.

Eating habits:

The sundew eats all kinds of insects, including flies, spiders and mosquitoes.

Freaky fact:

Some species of sundew can bend their leaves inwards in just a few seconds after contact with an insect; others can even do so in mere tenths of a second!

Cobra lily (Darlingtonia californica)

Native to: California and Oregon, US


How it works:

The cobra lily attracts insects with its scent and the sweet nectar on its ‘tongue’, which is cleverly highlighted by sunlight shining through a transparent area on its upper lid.

Once an insect has ventured inside the lily’s tube-like leaf structure, the plant’s slippery secretions and downward hairs cause the insect to fall into the lily’s trap, where it’s then slowly digested.

Eating habits:

The cobra lily enjoys eating insects such as beetles and flies.

Freaky fact:

The cobra lily gets its name from its unusually shaped leaves, which resemble the rearing head and forked tongue of a cobra.

Bladderwort (Utricularia)

Native to: all continents except Antarctica


How it works:

Mostly found living in lakes and rivers, the bladderwort has a floating stem with tiny sack-like traps growing along it. These traps, or ‘bladders’, have clever door-like valves that open and shut within thousandths of a second when triggered.

A bladderwort’s trap works by pumping water out through its walls, which builds pressure and ‘sets’ the trap like a spring. Long hairs attached to the trap act like levers and, when an insect touches one of them, the bladder’s door will open and suck in a stream of water – and the insect along with it! When the trap is full of water, the door closes again and the plant digests its prey.

Eating habits:

The bladderwort likes to eat lots of different aquatic species, such as mosquito larvae, water fleas and even young tadpoles.

Freaky fact:

With its traps able to snap shut in as little as 1/35th of a second, the bladderwort is 100 times faster than the Venus flytrap at catching its prey!

With thanks to Edward Jenner, Sagar Simkhada, Crodd Chin and Carolina Biological Supply Company for the use of their photos.

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Horticulture, Plants
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Cheese scone recipe

April 29, 2014
Author: Beth Flood-Fairlamb

Have you tried the wholesome cheese scones served in our cafes at the Eden Project? Now you can make your own with this simple recipe.


Ingredients (makes 8)


  • 660g plain flour
  • 35g baking powder
  • 90g sugar
  • 90g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 315ml milk
  • 150g grated cheddar cheese

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 20ml milk
  • 80g grated cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 225C.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in a bowl for five minutes.
  3. Mix the milk and eggs together and add slowly to the dry mix.
  4. Add the cheese and mix for one to two minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough to a 3cm thickness and cut with the scone cutter.
  6. Glaze the scones with the egg wash and dip them into the remaining cheese.
  7. Let the scones rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Bake the scones in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.

Find out what other lovely things you can eat at the Eden Project when you visit.

With thanks to Alpha for the above photo.


Magical wildflower meadows bring the countryside into your garden

April 17, 2014
Author: Guest

Shirley WalkerEden horticulturalist Shirley Walker gives some great tips on creating a beautiful and evocative piece of wildflower meadow in your own garden.

It is hard to imagine British literature, art, poetry and music without references to wildflowers, and the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, D. H. Lawrence, William Morris, Ralph Vaughn Williams, and many others would be seriously diminished without the richness of our native flora for inspiration. Shakespeare alone mentions over 100 native wildflowers and plants in his plays and sonnets.

Whenever I picture a perfect image of the British countryside, I see rolling meadows filled with colourful wildflowers, but sadly, in reality, the number of wildflower meadows has been seriously declining since the 1930s, and only scattered fragments remain. Wildflower meadows and grasslands are our most diverse habitats, rich in wildlife, beauty, history and folklore. Species as diverse as cowslips, purple orchids, skylarks, barn owls, brown hares and bumble bees, to name but a few, depend on wildflower meadows and grasslands for their survival. These magical places are an important part of our heritage.


How to make your own wildflower meadow

You don’t need rolling acres of land to make your own wildflower meadow. A patch of lawn in an open, sunny position can be transformed into a mini-meadow, rich in wildflowers, providing cover and food for wildlife. The maintenance of a wildflower meadow is much easier than a traditional lawn and it will provide colour and interest from spring until the last dying days of summer.

The most successful meadows occur on nutrient-poor soils which prevent vigorous grasses from taking over. Before planting your flower species, stop using fertilizers and weed-killers, and keep the grass very short, removing all the clippings to prevent nutrients from returning to the soil.

I find the best way of introducing wildflowers into an established lawn is to plant small plug-plants in autumn, and for a naturalistic appearance, I plant in small drifts across the lawn. Make a small hole for each plant and add a little compost to the bottom of the hole to help the plant establish quickly. After watering well, I usually add some leaf-mould around each plant to deter competition. Don’t cut the grass until the end of summer to allow the wildflowers to set for the following year.



Use wildflower turf or seeds

If you want to create a meadow on a bare patch of ground you can ‘cheat’ and lay wildflower turf, which is naturally low in nutrients. It is supplied in rolls and can be laid exactly like regular turf, and usually contains 50% grasses and 50% native wildflowers, including bugle, yarrow, ox-eye daisy, birds- foot trefoil and yellow rattle. It can be bought from a number of specialist suppliers.

Alternatively, you can sow a wildflower meadow mix of seeds direct in autumn or early spring – if you have a heavy clay soil I would advise sowing in spring. You can buy a seed mix to suit your soil type or conditions and sow at a rate of 4 grams per square metre. Traditional hay meadow mixes contain both native grasses and wildflowers, but pictorial meadow mixes are 100% wildflower seed, and can be both native and non-native, with a range of colour schemes, heights and flowering periods. Before sowing, fork over the soil and rake it, and then scatter the seed throughout. Lightly firm the soil with the back of the rake and keep an eye on the watering until germination has taken place.

At Eden this year, you will be able to enjoy four very different pictorial wildflower meadows, blooming throughout the summer, and the roof of the ‘Hive’ building will be adorned with a traditional, native hay meadow mix.

Wildflowers growing at Eden Project

Shirley’s pick of wildflowers

My favourite British wildflowers include the cowslip, with its deep yellow blooms held on tall stems in spring; bugle, which sends up a ring of tall, bright purple flowers; ragged robin, producing delicate pink blooms; sorrel, with its spikes of reddish flowers and crimson leaves in summer, and of course, the simple but perfect white ox-eye daisy.

Plantlife wildflower campaign

Plantlife is leading a campaign to save the UK’s remaining wildflower-rich meadows and grasslands through the ‘Saving Our Magnificent Meadows’ project. For more information go to the Plantlife website.

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Gardening, Horticulture, How to, Plants
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How is chocolate made? infographic

April 14, 2014
Author: Tom

Have you ever asked yourself ‘how is chocolate made?’ as you chomp through yet another sweet treat? Find out more about the origins and manufacturing process of this ‘food of the gods’ in our infographic below, and at our Easter holiday event at the Eden Project, Chocolate Unwrapped (5-21 April 2014).

Infographic: how is chocolate made?

How is chocolate made? infographic

‘How is chocolate made?’ infographic designed by Paul Barrett.

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Explore rubber in our new Rainforest exhibit

April 11, 2014
Author: Beth Flood-Fairlamb

We’ve just put the finishing touches to a brand new exhibit in our Rainforest Biome that’s all about how the humble rubber tree is playing a crucial role in safeguarding the real rainforest, in the Amazon.

Kids looking through binoculars in the Eden Project Rainforest Biome

Pay a visit to the rubber hut, surrounded by rubber plants, and you’ll be able to see how wild rubber is tapped directly from trees (Hevea brasiliensis) as liquid latex and then made into useful things like wellies and elastic bands.

There are all sorts of handles to turn, puzzles to solve, and binoculars to peer through – and you can even get your hands on real sheets of latex.

Natural latex sheets drying in a hut in the Eden Project Rainforest Biome

Created with Sky Rainforest Rescue – a partnership between Sky and WWF – the exhibit brings to life the fascinating story of how they’re providing small rubber production units to families in Acre, northwest Brazil, to give them a crucial livelihood, and in turn encourage them to protect the rainforest.

Man tapping rubber from a tree in the AmazonThe production units, which come with the equipment needed to press liquid latex into sheets of rubber, mean locals can tap existing wild rubber trees sustainably, rather than clear large parts of the rainforest to cultivate rubber plantations.

The units give them a fairer deal, too, because they can sell the rubber directly to manufacturers at a higher price.

The initiative has also introduced schemes to support families in making their soil more fertile. This means they’re less likely to resort to ‘slash-and-burn’ agriculture, a traditional method of burning plants to bring temporary fertility to the soil.

All this matters because deforestation not only impacts the lives of animal and plant species in the region, but increases the damaging effects of global climate change for us all.

‘Learning more about the Amazon and why it is important to protect it is just one small change we can all make,’ says Head of Responsible Business and Sky Rainforest Rescue Fiona Ball. ‘We hope that with more people visiting the Eden Project, they will not only have a great day out, but will go away with a deeper understanding of the importance of the Amazon rainforest.’

Stop by and have a look when you next visit. In the mean time you can find out more about Sky Rainforest Rescue’s work on their website, where you can also enter a competition to win tickets to the Eden Project.

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Plants, Sustainability

Cornish schoolchildren create giant den

April 4, 2014
Author: Guest

Students from 17 schools in the Penwith area of Cornwall have come together to create what could be the largest den in the world, with help from the Eden Project’s Education Team.

Children den building with the Eden Project

More than 70 children took part in the challenge at Trythall CP school in Penzance to create the largest and most beautiful den possible as part of a day of activities designed to build their practical, creative and team-working skills while using outside space.

The children took part in a range of activities throughout the day, including flag and crown making, tribal markings and marshmallow toasting before coming together to create a giant den big enough to provide shelter for all of the students and their teachers too.

Children den building with the Eden Project

Gill Hodgson, Eden Project coordinator for the event, said: ‘We know that learning and outside play is fantastically important, and this event was a brilliant opportunity to work with lots of schools and their young people to help them get outside more.’

The schools all belong to the Penwith Education Trust, which was set up to help schools collaborate and share resources.

The event was held as to launch a series of teacher training workshops from Eden that focus on the benefits of outdoor learning and how the core curriculum can be taught outside. It also helped schools in the trust to get to know each other better and to create lasting links.

The workshops will culminate in the National Empty Classroom Day event at Eden on June 20, 2014. Last year’s event saw more than 250 children use Eden as their classroom and this year around 400 pupils and their teachers from Penwith are expected to celebrate this event at Eden.

We invited several students to be ‘roving reporters’ for the day. Here’s their report of the event:

Children den building with the Eden Project

Today we arrived at Trythall School to participate in an activities day organised by the Penwith Education Trust and the Eden Project. It involved various primary schools around Penwith joining in on lots of amazing activities such as face painting, flag making and den building!

Many children commented on how much fun the day was. Jack, from Alverton, said that his favourite part of the day was ‘making the base of the den’.

There were also some secondary school students and roving reporters (that’s us!) from Cape Cornwall and Humphry Davy School that joined in to help the younger children and document the day.

The biggest activity of the day was building a really large den, which took most of the day. It was massive, and a few teachers were caught there trying to stay dry in all the rain!

The day was a massive success, and it would be really cool to have more days like it.

Words by Harry Knowles and all photos by Sebi Schmidt.

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Burst water main fixed – we’re fully open again tomorrow

March 27, 2014
Author: Hannah

Members of the Eden Team fixing a burst water main

We’d like to say sorry to any visitors disappointed by the unexpected closure of the Eden site today.

This was a very rare event in our 13 years of being fully open to the public and was all down to a burst water main.

This was spotted shortly before we were due to open this morning when one of the team saw a plume of water shooting out of a grassy bank at the top of our site at Bodelva.

The water supply was immediately turned off. Facilities manager John Oxenham rapidly assembled a team to investigate the problem, which turned out to be a broken joint in the main pipe.

Because this is the main supply into Eden, it meant we would not have had a good source of drinking water and hot water for our visitors.

A replacement section of pipe was found and fitted as quickly as possible and by late this afternoon the full water supply was safely and securely restored.

Eden’s Head of Estates Ian Merchant said: ‘It’s a pity visitors weren’t able to come in today. This was one of those extremely rare occasions when we have had an unplanned closure and we worked flat out to fix the problem as quickly as we could.

‘It is all fixed now and we will be back to business as usual tomorrow.’

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