- Nearly 2 million plants
- Over 5,000 varieties of plant
- Over 30 acres of gardens
With three climatic zones and nearly two million plants, Eden never fails to provide anything less than a jaw-dropping horticultural extravaganza throughout the year.
During lockdown a small and dedicated team of horticulturists have worked hard to ensure that the living collections were looked after for when visitors come back, when the Biomes reopen on 4 July.
Leo Hood leads the team looking after the Rainforest Biome, the largest undercover rainforest in the world. He says: “I’ve had peaceful but highly active days where the only sounds I hear are the leaves, the opening and closing of the Biome vents and the rush of the waterfall.
“We’ve had continuous stunning floral displays from the likes of the jade vine, sausage tree, Madagascan rubber vine, and passion flowers (Passiflora).
“A lockdown highlight has been bringing plants in from Eden’s nursery and planting current and future stunners such as a type of mangrove frangipani (Cerbera manghas) and wild tobacco (Actnistus arborescens) respectively.
“I’ve brought in mangrove plants and hope that the new mangrove area will soon be ready so visitors can learn about this awesome forest ecosystem.
“We’ve also planted a coconut after many years of absence – a seriously important palm we all use in our lives be it as fruit, milk, replacement peat, rope, brush, doormat, houseplant, shampoo, soap, body oil or cooking oil."
Rob Elley has been looking after the Mediterranean Biome, which features more than 1,000 varieties of plants from the warm temperate regions of the world. He says: “I’ve seen the wild areas of the Med basin, California, South Africa and Western Australia get denser and wilder, while flowering their hearts out without any help from me.
“I also look after our crop area, Campaign for Female Education garden, Vines, Med Veg, Citrus, Fruit and Nut and also our winter and spring bedding displays, all of which have flowered and now bearing fruit and vegetables.
“The plant that gets top marks for colour is the bougainvillea, a mass of pink bracts. That burst of colour just takes your breath away.
“I’ve changed the spring pot displays over to our summer displays and they are ready and looking fabulous. These include Aeonium ‘Tip Top’, Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’, Fuchsia ‘Eruption’, Nemensia ‘Karoo Soft Blue’, Digitalis and Cenchrus ‘Rubrum’.
Julie Kendall leads the team looking after Eden’s 30-acre outdoor garden, a task she undertook alone while Eden was closed to visitors. She says: “Since 6 June when we reopened the Outdoor Gardens it has been wonderful to have visitors back and lovely to be able to chat to people while out tending our fabulous array of plants.
“Because we are encouraging our guests to take a wider route before heading down towards the Biomes, many are discovering the horticultural delights of our great outdoors for the first time.
“Myth and Folklore, tucked away at the top of the garden, is so atmospheric, full of enclosing trees and our mud maiden Eve. The sculpture, such a favourite, is not so easy to find but well worth the search.
“The Outdoor Mediterranean area has been full of fabulous flowers for months now. Here you can enjoy an array of botanical wonders, including Puya chilensis with their incredible inflorescence, towering Echium, the freaky Beschorneria and the sweet little rock roses known as Cistus.
“Lower down our much-loved field of lavender, heads nodding in the breeze, is a haze of blue, carrying a heady scent that attracts a multitude of bees of several species.
Highlights over the coming year…
What to look out for in spring
Fresh blues predominate in early spring, with gorgeous displays of Scilla, Anemone, Pulmonaria and Iris. The scent of blossom from Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ fills the air in the Japanese Swale, while drifts of Erythronium and late-flowering Narcissus adorn the Plane Tree Steps.
The Plants for a changing climate beds are the very essence of spring, as the handsome Euphorbia characias displays its chartreuse-green blooms amongst spring bulbs. Giant alliums appear in beds and borders alongside Aquilegia, Camassia, Campanula and Digitalis.
The beautiful jade vine, Strongylodon macrobotrys, displays its turquoise flowers in early spring followed by purple Ipomoea and peace lilies, Hibiscus and Heliconia.
The Rainforest Canopy Walkway provides access to life in the forest canopy, with its splendid collection of orchids, and our quirky luffa vines are in fruit.
Rock roses (Cistus), adorn the Mediterranean landscape in early spring and tulips are beginning to flower in a blaze of vibrant colour.
In Western Australia, the iconic grass trees sit among Acacia, Banksia, Grevillea, Hardenbergia, Melaleuca and Callistemon, while the black and green kangaroo paw blooms beneath.
In the Perfume Garden, the beautiful Damask rose is in flower, with its heavenly perfume, and South Africa is showing off its princess protea, Protea grandiceps. In late spring, Persian buttercups, Ranunculus asiaticus bloom, just as the tulips begin to fade.
What to look out for in summer
There are some exciting additions to Bright Sparks this year, with new species of fiery Kniphofia, Watsonia and Dierama. Changes in the landscape see lavender and sunflowers in close proximity, providing a wonderful view from below.
The Plants for a changing climate beds come into their own during the summer months, with magnificent Puyas, Agaves, and a myriad of tender flowering plants to admire, and in the Veg Garden, Global Gardens and Cornish Crops, there are always tasty new varieties to be found.
The Aerial Walkway provides access to a host of orchids hiding in the treetops, and in Tropical Crops there are always novelties to be found, like the warty gourd, Momordica charantia.
Giant waterlilies from tropical South America, Victoria cruzian, are displaying their beautiful flowers, nestled among enormous leaves. See a video of them online.
King proteas, brugmansias, and the bird of paradise, Strelitzia reginae, can all be admired this summer, along with a host of wildflowers adorning California and Western Australia, creating rich tapestries of colour and texture.
New for this year is an exhibit showcasing many types of beans, including borlotti, haricot, faba, navy, broad and yard-long beans. There will also be an edible flower meadow, and a Mediterranean vegetable garden, containing a few curiosities, like agretti, chenopodium and rapunzel.
The beautiful Perfume Garden with its collection of aromatic plants provides a feast for all the senses.
What to look out for in autumn
Bright Sparks continues to look great, with late-flowering species and cultivars of Kniphofia and Crocosmia. Berkleya, Grevillea and Fasicularia provide interest in Plants for a Changing Climate, while salvias bring vibrant colour to the Sense of Memory Garden.
Liquidambar, zelkovas and acers are resplendent in rich autumn colour, and in the Veg Garden, Cornish Crops and Global Gardens, the last of the summer harvest is being gathered in, to make way for an array of brassicas and other winter veg.
The beautiful blue ginger, Dichorisandra thrysiflora, is flowering profusely in Amazonia, and in West Africa, our agroforestry exhibit tells the story of saving the soil, producing more food and making money for local communities.
In South Africa, Amaryllis belladonna is looking gorgeous, and banksias are beginning to flower in Western Australia, including Banksia menziesii. There are chillies galore, representing cuisines from different cultures, and juicy tomatoes for different uses.
In the Perfume Garden, night-scented jasmine, Cestrum nocturnum, is flowering, and the grapevines are ablaze with autumn colour. Warm shades can also be found in Western Australia where kangaroo paw, Anigozanthos, are in full flower. The vigorous climber, Podranea ricasoliana, is in bloom, and the first snowdrops and Narcissus have begun to appear in the Mediterranean landscape.
What to look out for in winter
Shimmering grasses, like the beautiful Deschampsia flexuosa, glow beneath the spooky white stems of Rubus cockburnianus, while fiery dogwood stems illuminate Eco-Engineering and Myth and Folklore.
The Street and Ice rink are decorated with a festive array of horticultural delights, and the scents of Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ and Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postil’ linger in the air.
Drifts of sweetly-scented Narcissus ‘Treglisson’, bred here in Cornwall, decorate beds and borders, while delicate hellebores adorn path edges.
The Life in the Treetops area has been planted up with 52 different species of orchid, including the beautiful Brassia.
Amidst luxuriant foliage, tropical gems, Solandra maxima and Calliandra haematocephala bloom, along with the stunning purple Crinum. The cola tree, Cola acuminata, is displaying its beautiful, bell-shaped flowers, and the glorybower, Clerodendrum, is putting on a show. A new collection of bromeliads adorns the Rainforest Canopy Walkway.
‘Christmas trees’ of vibrant Cyclamen herald the arrival of the festive season, and a bed overflowing with paper-white Narcissus provides a cool contrast to over 50 different species of tender Salvia.
The scarlet and gold inflorescences of Aloe ferox, light up South Africa, along with a host of beautiful proteas, ericas and zantedeschias, enhanced by the ‘scent of Africa’ – the aromatic Agathosma. Bulb species are beginning to appear across the Biome.