Tim Smit, author of Eden
, is obsessed with horticulture (no mere "gardening" for him). In restoring the Lost Gardens of Heligan he has become an acolyte of a great, though rarely remembered, philosophy--one that ties our welfare as a species to our relationship with plants.
The Eden Project is, in his own statement: "a vast complex of soap bubble-shaped greenhouses (the largest in the world) which interpret and explain our dependence upon the plant kingdom." Eden the book is his definitive account of the project from its beginnings--an account handsomely and often wittily illustrated (a good gift book). More importantly, it is well written.
Smit is trenchant about his aims: "Why, for Gods sake, put yourself...through years of grief to build a crappy theme park so that some smartass can define it in a sentence?" he asks. By creating something more than a mere "product"--and by doing it in an old clay pit in Cornwall--Smit and his colleagues faced daunting challenges. Larger-than-life characters pepper the book which is more about people than plants.
Well over a million people have already visited the Eden Project. But this book is more than a celebration, more than a memento; it is too honest and exhaustive to be a mere statement of vision. It is, all in all, a rather unlikely bestseller--a contender for best business book of the year. --Simon Ings
With several high-profile public projects going belly up, the opening of the Eden Project in Cornwall in March 2001 had many holding their breath. Would this Living Theatre of Plants and People prove to be another spectacular failure or the astonishing adventure we were promised? The hundreds of thousands of visitors who have voted with their feet by visiting the project since March prove quite categorically that this is a success, and it is salutary how under-reported this success has been compared to better-known failures. But all of that will change with this (and with several other new books and TV programmes) which celebrates an ambitious project. Smit tells the remarkable story of the Eden Project, of its conception and construction, and the many larger-than-life personalities involved. Smit's track record, of course, includes The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the same skills are more than evident here.