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Biome-ic Woman: In tropical Eden with Lucy Wenger

Botanical theme parks don’t come along every day and so the Eden project has carved a special niche for plant lovers everywhere.

Without plants our world is no world and there are few better place to see this message in action than at Eden.

The project was brainchild of Tim Smit in 1995 who had previously been instrumental in restoring the lost garden of Helligen.

Also key to its development were Tony Kendle (ex of University of Reading) and Grimshaw Architects.

Eden opened in 2001 amid a flurry of publicity and since then has become world famous as THE UK place to inspire anybody and everybody with the beauty, value and importance of plants in natural habitats and in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and medicine.

Eden’s famous biomes include the biggest rain forest in captivity in the World and that is where Lucy Wenger – maker and keeper of the tropical biome – steps in!

Lucy was a recent student of Dr M’s on the University of Reading MSc Plant Diversity, and now she is full-time expert horticulturalist in Eden’s tropical biome, here she outlines a typical (thurs)day in her eXtreme botanical biome-ic life…

Lucy Wenger writes:

“Texting my friend whilst wolfing down muesli at breakfast this morning, what you up to?”

“Well… this morning I’ve rocked around the biome in a golf buggy checking for bendy tree branches, put the biggest smile on Lee, our work experience student’s face as he joined me in the cherrypicker to stretch up into the canopy to rescue a Ficus from the clutches of a very vigorous Entada up in West Africa, felled a dead Terminalia ivorensis in Malaysia and checked out a possible new flower on a Ravenala madagascariensis in the Oceanic Islands not to mention admiring the Thunbergia mysorensis, clockvine, a really cool vine from Mysore in India and pollinated by sunbirds.”


“Welcome to my average Thursday (or any other) morning as a Skilled Horticulturalist in the Rainforest Biome of the Eden Project.”

“The Eden Project is an educational charity which houses and cultivates plants from all over the world to teach our visitors about humanity’s relationship with nature.”

“It’s pretty easy to spot a member of the Rainforest Green Team at Eden, look for those ultra-scruffy, dishevelled bods, covered in mud having clambered down a bank to retrieve a fallen branch, soaking wet from watering the worlds largest captive rainforest first thing, eyes trained to the treetops eagerly in search of flower buds and seed, in a golf buggy piled high with foliage collected from the furthest reaches of the canopy, ready to be turned into mulch.”

“It’s not all about hacking your way through impenetrable jungle though. My mission is to create a fascinating and contemporary exhibit in the West Africa section of the Rainforest Biome.”

“Presently, this area is being transformed to highlight the importance of agriculture’s role in sustainable economic development in one of the World’s poorest regions.”

“Therefore I’m busy selecting and sourcing species appropriate to the exhibit, propagating, planting, maintaining, researching and participating in the exhibit interpretation.”

“I want to offer visitors a real insight into current issues and focus on the positive potential for change in the West African region, by showcasing cutting-edge agroforestry techniques.”

“Therefore straight after breakfast I’ll be contacting Limbe Botanic Gardens for advice and checking up on our Irvingia wombolu seeds in quarantine having just arrived from the World Agroforestry Centre in Yaounde, Cameroon … Not bad for a Thursday morning!”

Dr M is inclined to agree!



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