Thursday, 26 February 2015

Eden out of season

There isn't really an out-of-season for Eden, under its huge bright canopies of not-glass. But even the Tropical Biome responds to the lower light levels; and so do the visitors, who are quieter, fewer, less crowdy and more inclined to be locals on season tickets.

The birds at Eden are cheeky beasts; we were buzzed by Blackbirds, mobbed by finches, and watched a three-way robin fight on he path just ahead of us. Even the Dunnocks were not shy. We fed them scraps of pasty outside the café (doubtless contributing to their overall domesticity). In the Tropical Biome, a Blackbird took care to squawk loudly and get our attention before chowing down on a mango buzzing with fruit-flies (below, bottom left).

The place is crammed with art items, some (a giant sailor you could make rock by pulling on a rope,  a giant seed made of granite, and the mirror-faced lady (below, right)) more readily explained than others (a greenhouse full of faded globes, a giant bee, and a bacchanal of bronzes (top middle) which is probably covered with vine leaves in summer). I like the jammed-in feel of it all; that junglish sense of too much cool stuff to curate.

Under the canopies of the biomes, the warmth was calming and the plants were profuse. Little walkways everywhere lead all around and through the plants; up into the canopy and down between walls of green. Early spring bulbs jostled with tropicals overwintering. Tree ferns overtopping formal clipped box. Agricultural rows and installations interrupting riots of overgrowth interrupting formal border planting. Quails creeping through the forest litter, and ants creeping up our arms as we waited for our turn to look down on the jungle.

Exit via the giftshop; we bought dried chillies and baobab chocolate to eat, and I bought a camellia and a dwarf acacia to plant (both now cowering in the greenhouse while they get used to the chill of the Midlands).

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