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Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 19:29 GMT 20:29 UK
UK's 'Garden of Eden' takes root
Eden project BBC
The giant 'biomes' will open at Easter
A project to create the world's largest greenhouse has taken another step forward with the rooting of a rainforest.

Within the past five days, the first phase of planting has begun in one of two giant temperature-controlled domes built on the site of a former clay pit in Cornwall, UK.

About 300 plants and trees have been winched into place in the largest dome, which is as tall as the Tower of London.

The 80m Eden Project aims to recreate all the planet's climates in the two huge conservatories, called biomes, including the environments of Amazonia, West Africa, the islands of the South Pacific and Malaysia.

The garden will formally open to the public next Easter.

Chief executive Tim Smit said it was great to see the first plants going in: "Look at how good it feels now with this many plants and imagine what it will be like with more than 10,000 plants inside," he said.

"It has exceeded my vision. When I come in here I am not the man running the project, I am a fan."

Epic scale

The project at Bodelva near St Austell will feature the largest plant house in the world, containing about 12,000 plants and trees.

Thousands of plants are being grown locally but other species will be imported from Holland or grown by universities.

The tallest tree planted so far is a 30-year-old Kapok (Ceiba petandra).

Among the more unusual species is the Cananga Odorata from Malaysia - used to make the fragrance Chanel No 5.

Horticulture director Philip McMillan Browse, one of the original team who came up with the idea, said: "When we first thought up the Eden Project, we said to each other, 'why don't we build the biggest greenhouse in the world and put a rainforest in it?' Now, at last, we are doing just that."

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