Don’t look down! Extreme Eden gardeners brave steeply-sloped Silver Staircase
A team of nearly 30 Eden Project gardeners braved a perilous slope at the edge of the project’s pit to dig in more than 2000 herbaceous plants.
The herculean task was completed in the warm spring sunshine by nearly all of Eden’s horticulture team.
This included those who usually work in the Rainforest and Mediterranean Biomes, as well as a team of Eden horticultural volunteers from as far afield as South Africa and Spain.
The team were replanting an area of the Eden site known as the Silver Staircase, located on the western edge of the garden, so called because of its steep incline and the colour of the plants.
The area is one of the most challenging in the former china clay quarry. As well as the slope, the soil is very shallow and gardeners had to dig away at the clay beneath to get the plants in the ground.
A variety of plants were chosen for their striking colours and shapes, including silver wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana), lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantine) and cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus).
The team recently removed a group of acacias from that area, a job that due to the size of the trees involved the gardeners having to don climbing harnesses and abseil down the slope.
Julie Kendall, Eden’s lead outdoor horticulturist, consulted Eden’s health and safety team before the replanting job and was advised to take extreme caution but that climbing ropes weren’t necessary.
Julie is in her 15th year at Eden and was a member of the original planting team at the project. She said: “This is a huge job and it was our ambition to do it in one day so we needed to muster as many gardeners as we could.
“The area was incredibly challenging to work in, what with the steepness of the slope and the hard ground. While it’s undeniably tough, the team and I love getting stuck in to a challenge like this and the sense of satisfaction when it’s finished is wonderful.
“The Silver Staircase is an important part of our outdoor garden and the new planting will provide a striking stripe of cool silvery tones on the western side of the garden, a beautiful contrast to the bright outdoor Mediterranean garden that it neighbours.”
Spring is putting on a stunning show of colour in the great outdoors at Eden. Bright sunshine in the week following Easter has seen the gardens burst into their seasonal peak.
For Eden Project visiting times and prices, see www.edenproject.com or call 01726 811911.