From Pit to Paradise: The Story of The Eden Project, a Global Garden, an Educational Forum and a Platform for Positive Change.

In the 1990s, the Eden Project was bold enough to ask the difficult questions…


  • What will happen if we take a tired, 60 metre deep, sheer-sided clay pit that has no soil, and try to breathe life back into it?
  • If we can get the greatest engineering and horticultural minds to work together, what level of change will be possible?
  • What can be cultivated in a garden that lies 15 metres below the water table?
  • What would the world look like if everyone tried to make a difference and was able to say, ‘I’m glad I did’ rather than ‘I wish I had’?

The answers to these questions and more can be found at the Eden Project!

Change (verb): to make or become different


The Eden Project concept was developed in the 1990s, and it has become a green movement that explores the depth and breadth of the natural world. Eden is multifaceted; part global garden, part social enterprise, part education forum and part platform for positive change.

The Eden Project says, “Earth provides us with fresh air, clean water, rich biodiversity and a stable climate. We believe that the planetary emergency issues are all symptoms of the same problem: we have broken our relationship with the natural world. That’s why the Eden Project is working with, for, and as part of nature to repair this relationship by demonstrating and inspiring positive action for the planet.”

We live in a society where the term climate change has been bandied around so much we are in danger of becoming immune to its critical meaning. Talking about change, and knowing the importance of change is not enough; change is a doing word, it requires action


A real life Garden of Eden emerges from the rubble


A barren landscape was selected for the transformation, a tired old clay mine with no soil or plants – the ultimate blank canvas. A huge diversity of plants were introduced and both cultivated and wild landscapes were imagined. The symbolic metamorphosis of the old clay pit represents the beauty of what can be achieved when humans reconnect with and respect nature, even in areas that seem infertile or damaged beyond repair.

As well as the Biomes, the Eden Project offers visitors an extensive array of outdoor gardens, art installations, live performances and storytelling events. There are places to sit and soak up the fragrance of the garden, eat seasonal produce, play and explore sensory environments, and plenty of opportunities to be inspired!


The Iconic Biomes


The biomes are huge greenhouse-like structures, made from steel frames and thousands of hexagonal cells. The hexagonal shape was inspired by soap bubbles and enabled the biomes to fit neatly into the irregular shape of the clay pit. The Biomes look like they’re made of glass, but each cell is actually composed of three layers of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene copolymer (ETFE), which is much lighter than glass and also incredibly robust. This unfortunately doesn’t let the window cleaners off the hook, whenever the plastic needs to be cleaned abseilers scale the Biomes to perform this enormous task! The layers of ETFE help control the artificial climates within the Biomes, contributing to the stunning array of non-native plant species that are able to thrive within these structures.

When it was first built, the Eden Project stunned audiences around the globe. There were no buildings of this type, on this scale, anywhere, and it was often called the eighth wonder of the world! Enormously popular from its inception, Eden attracted more than 1 million visitors in its first four months alone.

The Rainforest Biome


The Rainforest Biome is one of the largest indoor rainforests in the world. It emulates the steamy humidity of the tropical environment, and on unclouded, super hot days, temperatures in the Biome can reach 32ºC – so make use of the water refill stations and stay hydrated.

Visitors are encouraged to look up as they journey around the Biome, as there is so much to see above you, including orchids planted at height. There is also an amazing canopy walkway and Rainforest Lookout which offer stunning views of the treetops and a different perspective on the Biome experience.

The meandering path takes you on a journey through different rainforest climates, including (our favourite) the tropical island setting with mangroves and displays of tropical crops such as bananas, coffee and cocoa. Areas of specific planting also focus on SouthEast Asia, West Africa, South America, and areas of crops and cultivation.

Look out for the Coco-de-mer – it’s a favourite amongst Eden’s gardening team.

The Mediterranean Biome


The cooler Mediterranean Biome has a maximum temperature of 25ºC, and is a much drier environment. The scent of herbs fill the air and the Biome is filled with glorious flower displays and an interesting array of seasonal crops. There is a perfume garden, and themed areas of Mediterranean, Californian, South African and Western Australian planting.

Eden’s outdoor gardens


It is hard to picture the barren slopes of the old clay mine as you meander through Eden’s 30 acres, much of which has been set aside for stunning temperate outdoor gardens. Visitors enjoy a thoughtfully composed juxtaposition of wild and cultivated spaces, highlighting the importance of each, and our human reliance on both. Eden showcases Europe’s largest collection of useful plants, those that are used for fuel, medicinal or food generation purposes, and also more natural areas that offer opportunities to connect with nature.

Artworks are nestled in and amongst the planting, offering surprises and points of interest as you journey around the gardens. Simplicity and serenity are championed in the Japanese woodland garden, and colourful seasonal borders connect diverse garden areas that revolve around sensory play, creativity, fruit, veg, flowers, health and wellbeing.

Visiting Eden’s Wild Edge is a global experience. The Korea exhibit tells the story of the regeneration of its forests, whilst rugged Wild Cornwall tells a more local tale. The Outdoor Mediterranean, North American Prairie, and South African garden offer international flavour. The growing Climate Garden takes visitors on a 400 million year journey and imagines positive future environments.

The outdoor gardens are changing the way people experience Eden. In the past, people often headed straight for the Biomes but now they are exploring the diversity of Cornwall’s temperate gardens, and wandering the network of paths in a journey of discovery. There is also a wider estate of footpaths through diverse ecological areas, which lead to the old clay trails and blur the lines between Eden and the landscape that frames it.


The South African Garden


The 800 square metre outdoor South African garden is planted with the iconic trees, shrubs and flowers that symbolise the beauty and diversity of the nation’s landscape, from the savannah, to the mountains and the coast. South Africa is one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, with around 20,000 different plant species. Eden showcases the “pink and white proteas (a signature plant in South Africa) as well as summer-flowering watsonias, spiralling aloes, and striking red-hot pokers in red and yellow hues”. The stunning Watsonia pillansii, is known for its bright orange summer bloom, and its long narrow tubes which entice nectar-feeding birds.

There is some overlap between the planting in the South African outdoor garden and Eden’s Mediterranean Biome, however the outdoor gardens showcase what Conrwall’s temperate climate is capable of growing, in a celebration of a more naturalistic style of planting.


The Pollinator Pathway


The captivating living art installation, the Pollinator Pathmaker, is made up of 7,000 plants from 64 different species, and is located in the Wild Edge zone of the outdoor gardens. It welcomes human visitors, but most importantly pollinating visitors including bees, beetles, moths, and wasps.

Pollinating insects are in decline due to habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species and climate change. The Pollinator Pathway is on a mission to raise awareness of the plight of pollinators and inspire and empower DIY gardeners to create gardens that are safe havens for pollinators to thrive in.

“The Pollinator Pathmaker project is part of Create a Buzz, a three-year programme for the Eden Project funded by the Garfield Weston Foundation. Create a Buzz comprises the major art installation, Pollinator Pathmaker, by Ginsberg, a physical and digital pollination trail through Eden Cornwall’s outdoor gardens, new plantings of fields of wild flowers and a range of community and education projects. It seeks to communicate the story of the UK’s native pollinators: their vital role, their current plight and their restoration, using art and culture to do so”.


The Eden Project is a global phenomenon


The Eden Project is defined by ideas and grand plans for a positive future. There is an international Eden Project roll-out underway, so the educational and social change generated by these institutions will continue to make a difference on a global scale.

On a more personal level though, the Eden Project is a fantastic family-friendly day out and engaging for adults and children alike. In fact anyone with an inquiring mind can discover where tea, rubber and sugar originate, experientially travel the world, and witness some of the planet’s most exotic and spectacular plant species.

Eden is proud of its transformation from pit to paradise, but its evolutionary journey isn’t over yet. Eden is constantly adopting new technology and nature-based innovations with the aim of growing more sustainably, conserving biodiversity and tackling climate change head on.

Eden is a feast for the mind and soul and offers visitors multifaceted experiences. Whether you’re looking for serene moments of reflection amongst nature, or a thrilling, action-packed day of family fun, Eden has a green space for you.

Eden is a truly modern garden, a global platform that inspires humanity to repair its relationship with nature. Be brave enough to ask the difficult questions and you’ll find the answers. Dare to dream and you’ll be rewarded. Take action in the name of change, and a positive global future can become a reality for us all.


Discover Gardens Near to the Eden Project

Caerhays Castle and Spring Gardens

A Story of Plant Hunting Expeditions, Garden Diaries, and Constant Evolution.

Tregrehan Garden

A Story of the Carlyon Family, a Spectacular Arboretum, Plant Hunting Expeditions and Cornwall’s Temperate Rainforest.