For a gardener, England is a magical place, full of lovingly designed and tended gardens–from the formal and majestic to the whimsical and intimate. Alas, December isn’t the best time to visit gardens in England, but for hardier aficionados, there are many things to see even in winter. And then, for the rest of us, there are indoor gems like the Eden Project in Cornwall, which features huge covered biomes built on the site of an old china clay pit:
It was my one request on our recent trip to the British Isles: a few days in Cornwall to see the Eden Project and explore some of the natural beauty of the area. I was tempted to stop in at the Lost Gardens of Heligan (having read Tim Smit’s fascinating book on the restoration of the famous gardens there), but wanted to save that experience for a future summer, should I ever have the opportunity.
The Eden Project was a novelty, mostly because it is such an unusual space. Taking advantage of a fine morning, we walked through the outdoor gardens first, then made our way inside –to the Rainforest and Mediterranean biomes.
Here are just a few of the sights that were a pleasure to behold in December: Golden Chalice Vine, Parakeet Heliconia, a striking plant with red stems and lobed green fruits that I have not been able to identify (so if anyone happens to know what it is, enlightenment would be much appreciated!*), the unfurling leaf of a banana tree (I never quite thought about how that happened before–it was a revelation), and finally, a lizard that almost completely blended into the background until one of our sharp-eyed friends spotted it.
*Update Feb 2014: I now know what the previously unidentified plant is — it is a Glory Bower (Clerodendrum speciosissimum); the third photo below shows the fruits of the plant.