Eden Project targets boost in visitor numbers with new focus on exotics from Australia

The Eden Project hopes a virtual trip to Australia to "one of the world's most threatened landscapes" will boost its visitor numbers this spring.

First Australian plants have been installed in the biome. Image: Eden Project
First Australian plants have been installed in the biome. Image: Eden Project

Its Mediterranean Biome is undergoing its biggest-ever transformation with the creation of a new area devoted to some of Australia’s extraordinary flora.

Visitors will be able to see exotics such as grass trees, kangaroo paws and wax flowers at Eden for the first time.

Eden is collaborating with Kings Park and Botanic Garden in Perth, Western Australia, to recreate the iconic habitats of the south west of the vast state. Its senior curator, Grady Brand, has travelled to Eden to help the expert horticulture team with this large-scale installation.

Work is now progressing in the Biome and the first plants, including eleven of the highly-distinctive grass trees, have already been installed.

The unique body of plants is all the more remarkable because, in its natural habitat, it survives and thrives on some of the earth’s oldest and most infertile soil.

Eden’s director of life sciences Dr Mike Maunder said: "South west Australia has fabulous flora found nowhere else on earth, with amazing flowers, ingenuous adaptations and great plant stories. Kings Park is helping us bring some of this floral magic to Eden. We have had great support from them and their chief executive Mark Webb. Eden’s expert horticulturists, Dina Gallick and Catherine Cutler, have worked closely with the Kings Park team and made extensive field trips into the bush.

"The Eden Project celebrates the wonder of the natural world, our dependence on it, and the imperative of repairing it. The flora of south west Australia is a natural wonder and is amongst the world’s most threatened landscapes.  Eden is proud to be exhibiting these extraordinary plants and to recognise the conservation work of Kings Park and Botanic Garden."

The new garden within a garden at Eden will have three sections. This first is Jarrah forest on the sloped beds, telling the story of the critical role of fire in maintaining habitat, and plant adaptations related to fire.

A central bed will showcase ‘wow’ plants such as wax flowers, everlastings and a collection of kangaroo paws.

The third section will be Kwongan, including iconic endemic plants such as Chamelaucium, Grevilleas, Banksias, Acacias, Eucalyptus and Calothamnus. This represents an area of impoverished soil with the lowest nutrients and yet has the greatest diversity of flora.

Eden is highlighting research from The University of Western Australia into the adaptation of Kwongan plants to acquire phosphorus in extremely impoverished soil, a trait that may prove useful in crop breeding.

Eden has also commissioned a design from leading Aboriginal artist, Dr Richard Walley, which represents the six seasons during which the Nyoongar people harvest wild food. These will be incorporated in the storytelling area with a traditional Aboriginal-designed path.

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