Date: 
Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - 15:30

As the UK swelters in temperatures hotter than Miami and Marseilles, it is another balmy day in the office for arguably Britain’s warmest team of gardeners, the Rainforest crew at the Eden Project.

On any day of the year, even in the depths of winter, temperatures in the world’s biggest undercover rainforest are a minimum 18°C (64°F) to protect the thousands of plants recreating tropical regions from around the globe.

Right now in the midst of the heatwave, the mercury can rise to a searing 45°C (113°F) at the very top of the 50-metre high Biome.

The team charged with looking after the rainforest have a very physically-demanding role, only made more challenging by the high temperatures.

Their job is to plant, prune, weed, water, cut back and chop down the plants in the rainforest. Many of the team are also trained industrial climbers, a crucial skill because trees that grow too tall have to be cut back by the gardeners on ropes before they break through the roof of the Biome.

So how do Biome supervisor Hetty Ninnis and her team deal with the soaring temperatures while they do this challenging work?

The answer, in short, is plenty of water, occasional breaks for ice cream, making sure your team-mates are okay and... crisps.

Hetty said: "The temperature may be more than 40 degrees in places, but it doesn't mean the work stops. We have watering, weeding and even abseiling to do.

“We drink lots of cold water, take fresh air and ice cream breaks outside the Biome and make sure we replace the salts we lose through sweating. This means that our team gets cravings for crisps at the end of the working day!

“In this kind of weather, we really need to look out for each other and make sure we’re watching for the signs of our team members becoming dehydrated or affected by the heat. If someone ever seems unusually grumpy or has difficultly finishing their sentences, that’s a sure sign that they need some fresh air and water.”

Fortunately for visitors, a trip to the Rainforest Biome can be taken at a much more sedate pace. Anyone who may be feeling the heat can take advantage of regular water fountains, a refrigerated Cool Room and exits throughout the Biome.

Being native to the tropics, the Rainforest Biome's plants thrive in the high temperatures, due to continue all week.

Hetty has had to increase the frequency of watering the plants from three times a week to every day. This means placing sprinklers around the beds before visitors arrive in the morning, as well as watering with hoses.

At the end of the day, once the work has been done and everyone is rehydrated and has had their fill of crisps, the Rainforest team often take advantage of living in Cornwall and have a swim in the sea which, by anyone's standards, remains pretty cool.

  • From July 23 until September 4, the Eden Project will be hosting Dinosaur Uprising: Land, Sea and Air, its summer holiday spectacular featuring rampaging dinosaurs, an awe-inspiring underwater section and a display of magnificent flying Pterosaurs. For more information see www.edenproject.com.

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