Garden Visit: Eden Project Cornwall October 2017

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If you’re holidaying in the UK there are plenty of world-class gardens to discover and Cornwall’s flagship is The Eden Project

During a mini-break staycation for our anniversary, my wife and I met up with my lovely gardening aunt for a day out to two Cornish Gardens. We visited the Eden Project in the morning and The Pinetum, which is just down the road from its more famous neighbour, after filling up on a pasty for lunch.

How to find the Eden Project

The safest route is to head towards St Austell and following the brown tourist signs to find the main entrance. Previously we’ve followed the Sat Nav and ended up coming through some small lanes. It’s probably a longer route on the main roads but at least you cant get lost.

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Useful Information

Website: www.edenproject.com

Entrance: an eye-watering £27 per adult at the gate.

Opening times – quite variable within the month. Somewhere between 9-9:30 and closing by 6pm. The biomes open later at 10am. It’s best to check for the day you’re planning on going.

Outside areas

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A view over the two large Biomes

The site is split into a few areas of note. The two main Biomes share a linkway which houses facilities and restaurant. One side is a tropical rainforest biome and the other house is a more arid, Meditteranean-like environment. There are purely ornamental plantings and on the steep slopes at the far end are various food crops from around the world on show.  It’s sold as a full day attraction, and it would have to be for the entry costs, but even with two gardening fans in the group we only managed 3 hours before it was time to move on.

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Sunflower planting in front of the Rainforest Biome

The biomes

The biggest draw is the two biomes. These amazing structures are the real highlights for me. It’s interesting visiting again after living overseas and spending some time in Thailand and Singapore as the rainforest biome. On my first visit the plants we alien to me and I didn’t find them that interesting. Coming back this year they’re now familiar, almost ubiquitous, and I found myself spending more time looking at the foliage and flowers.

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Inside the Rainforest Biome

The temperate biome has a special feature on Western Australia which is an interesting, if small, new addition.

In summary

I’m glad to have visited again as it’s been a good number of years since we were last there. That being said there’s nothing really new to see so if you’ve been in the last 5 years you’re not missing out. For the money spent it feels a bit overpriced, as impressive as the biomes are, it almost needs more here to keep your interest. We also noted that the amount of plant labeling is poor. Where plants are so international and unique you have to have labels to fully appreciate what you’re seeing.

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Grass borders on the slopes

Other UK Garden Visits

Sussex Prairie Garden

RHS Wisley, Surrey, UK

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

Kew Garden

Book Review: Rhapsody in Green – Charlotte Mendelson

Book Review: Rhapsody in Green - Charlotte Mendelson

Book Review: Rhapsody in Green

Charlotte Mendelson

Back in  December, I listed a few books on my Christmas list that I hoped to get my sticky-from-all-the-mince-pies hands on and this was one of them. I’d not heard about Charlotte before but this title kept cropping up on my Twitter feed and book review sections of magazines so I thought I’d better give it a read.

What it’s about

Charlotte is a London-based novelist who is trapped between her insatiable addiction to gardening and the realities of a small back garden. Very few of us have the perfect garden and Charlotte captures the longing for more space, better harvests, less slug damage, and infatuation with catalogue descriptions. It’s a very real, very personal, diary.

Book structure

The book is ordered into chapters covering early, mid and late periods of the four seasons. That’s where the structure ends, unfortunately. The sub-chapters are more random in their construction with topics seemingly placed without order. On its own, this isn’t a problem; it’s a good book for reading intermittently, and the variety would keep it interesting. My main issue is the topic creep. What starts off talking about compost might end, instead, discussing bees. This, as a spreadsheet and listmaker, I found irritating and a thorough editing would have improved it.

Readability

That being said, Charlotte is clearly a very gifted writer. Her sentences are rich with description and the tone throughout the book is engaging. Her observations are spot on and there’s humour throughout the book.

Resources

I like the list of other books that have inspired and informed her gardening; titled The Blacklist, ‘they will lead you astray; approach with caution’.

Summary

I nice read for someone who has a less-than-perfect garden and is looking for reassurance that it isn’t always like it says in the books. Engaging text but would have benefited from tighter editing to keep things on topic.

 

Book Review: Real Gardens – Adam Frost

Book Review: Real Gardens - Adam Frost

Book Review: Real Gardens

 Adam Frost

Book Review: Real Gardens - Adam Frost
Book Review: Real Gardens – Adam Frost

Adam Frost is cropping up all over the place at the moment, fronting a hugely popular segment in Gardeners’ World – the Twitter reaction has been encouraging – and taking us around the Chelsea Flower Show 2017. It’s taken me a while to warm to him and I don’t know why. However, I’m now firmly in the fan club and listened to him speak at my local Toby’s GardenFest. He came across as very down to earth, humble about his impressive achievements and very approachable. As I’m doing more designing, in my own space and for others,  I was drawn to his book detailing the process and plans involved in designing his seven gold medal-winning gardens at Chelsea.

What it’s about

The book aims to show the inspiration for each of the gardens and also taking a look at Adam’s own experiences in developing them. It’s as much about him as the gardens themselves.

Book structure

Each garden is given its own chapter. Information about the concept, the inspiration, the sponsorship and the build are all covered. The plants used are described in the text but there’s also a section showing some key plants used in the design in more detail. Built components are given in plan form drawings should you be tempted to recreate them. A garden plan image is provided to make sense of the layout. Smaller boxes are dotted about taking some information that’s not directly about the garden into an aside should you want to know more. Examples of this are a mini-biography of Frank Lloyd Wright and John Clare, the inspiration for Adam’s 2012 garden. These add a depth of information that doesn’t clutter the focus of the book.

Readability

This book would fall into the coffee-table-book end of the spectrum. It’s easy to read but is much more engaging than the normal offerings in this category. Adam’s warm and self-deprecating text draws you in and he comes across as thoroughly likeable. Importantly, there’s no grandstanding or peacock about his description of these gardens.

Resources

The drawing plans of the garden structures, although interesting, would likely only appeal to a small number of readers who would go out to build and recreate some of the hard landscaping. More useful would have been a list of suppliers for materials, rills, obelisks, plants etc so you could start work on sourcing items for your own space. I loved the garden design plans and seeing the finished gardens alongside these is great.

Summary

A beautifully presented garden design book. The images are stunning and the text explains the ideas and skills used to create the gardens. Adam’s story is equally engaging and the whole book is a treat for fans, designers and gardeners.

Book Review: Book Review: The Apple Orchard -The Story of our most English fruit – Pete Brown

Book Review: The Apple Orchard -The Story of our most English fruit - Pete Brown

Book Review: The Apple Orchard

The Story of our most English fruit

Pete Brown

Back in  December I listed a few books on my Christmas list that I hoped to get my sticky-from-all-the-mince-pies hands on. An Amazon voucher from my sister-in-law meant I was able to purchase the hardback of this book guilt free. I’m really glad I did. It may not be for everyone, I gave it to my mum to read whilst I was finishing another book and she couldn’t get into it as ‘it was all about apples’. Apparently, there’s a certain amount of NerdAlert needed to read this.

What it’s about

The blurb says this is going to be the author spending a year in the apple-growing regions of the UK uncovering the mythology and the true history of the apple.

Book structure

The book is sorted into sections titled Blossoming, Fruiting, Ripening, Harvesting, Celebrating, Transforming, and Slumbering. These are all pretty self-explanatory and nicely echo the rhythm of the yearly cycle in the orchard. The chapters are a good length, perfect for reading a couple before bed or during your morning commute.

Readability

Pete’s writing style is excellently engaging. The unexpected F-bombs remind me of chatting with a friend rather than being lectured at by a professor which would have been a risk had the tone of the book been more traditional. I like it. It’s so much more approachable and will win over someone not sure how much they’re into non-fiction books. The shortish chapters and humorous observations, akin to Bill Bryson, make it very easy to plough through the book faster than you’d like. I even put it down to read a magazine for a few days just so I didn’t rush it.

Resources

At the end of the book is a reading list should your interest be peaked. This is a nice touch. After getting all fired up with optimism about small-scale private growers (not the bits on commercial farming and the general public’s changing tastes – that’s truly depressing) it would have been nice to have a list of UK growers if you wanted to source your own orchard. I suppose ten minutes on Google would probably give you that.

Summary

Simultaneously informative and enjoyable, this book did exactly what I hoped it would, but in a style that was refreshing and engaging. I’ve not read his other works on Cider and Beer but that matters not when this book is so good. I’m glad I went for the hardback as it now sits on my gardening shelf proudly.