Eden Project – the biggest conservatory in the world
Located in Cornwall, UK, in what once was a disused clay mine, you can discover a rich and abundant garden with over one million plants. Considered by the Guinness Book of Records to be the world's largest greenhouse, the Eden Project is a unique resource center for people who want to know more about nature and the environment.
Constructed in a 160 year-old dormant clay mine and under the guidance of Eden's chief executive, Tim Smit, a team of horticulturalists created the site, which consists of three main biomes. These bubble-like structures were constructed using tubular steel space-frames featuring ETFE (ethyltetrafluoroethylene) hexagonal panels. During the first couple of months of construction, 43 million gallons (162.7 million liters) of rainwater drained into the site, which prompted the engineers to come up with a subterranean drainage system. It is currently used to collect all the rainwater entering the site.
The Eden Project showcases three major biomes: the Rainforest Biome (big enough to fit the Tower of London), the Mediterranean Biome and the open-air Outdoor Biome. Inside the Rainforest Biome, you can explore steamy rainforests in what is reportedly the world's largest enclosed jungle. It contains tropical plants, a huge cascading waterfall and a canopy lookout. The internal climate is controlled using automated misters to moisten the air (90 percent relative humidity at night, 60 percent in the day), whilst ground-level pipes irrigate the soil. In addition, the waterfall uses recycled water and also helps keep humidity high.
Strolling through the balmy Mediterranean Biome, you can enjoy the scent of lemon trees, olives trees, grape vines and perfumed herbs. It's a representation of plants naturally found in the Mediterranean, South Africa and California. This biome's climate is kept drier, and open vents are used to reduce humidity and therefore fungal problems.
The Outdoor Biome displays an array of flora that suits the UK climate including tea, lavender, hops, hemp and sunflowers. The garden also serves as a source of information, featuring stories of plants, and how they can be used to create medicine, fuels, materials and food throughout the world.
Last month during its global torch relay, the World Harmony Run carried its torch to the Eden Project and presented a special award to Tim Smit, "for his major contribution to changing the world into one where, in his own words, 'plants provide a canvas on which we can paint an optimistic future.'"
The Eden Project is open to the public all year round and hosts a variety of education, entertainment and charity programs.