A pair of striking totem poles are greeting visitors to the Eden Project in Cornwall as Britain’s first Korean garden takes shape.
The poles, known as Jangseung, have been donated by the Korea National Arboretum, which is located near Seoul and is Eden’s partner in the garden. They are traditionally placed at the edges of villages to mark the boundaries.
Jangseung come in pairs of male and female figures and are thought to protect villages against evil spirits, fire or other disasters. They were installed at Eden as the national flower of South Korea was planted in the garden.
The Hibiscus syriacus was planted by Eden Outdoor Horticultural Lead Julie Kendall and Korea National Arboretum researcher HyeYoung Jin. It joins the national flower of North Korea, Magnolia sieboldii, which was planted at Eden last February (2019).
The new Eden garden is due to open in April. It is themed around the unique plants of the Korean peninsula and the extraordinary reforesting of South Korea over the last 50 years. The garden occupies a 1,000 square metre space on the top edge of the Eden outdoor gardens close to the Visitor Centre.
The garden carries important themes. Firstly, the ability of nature to heal the wounds of war as demonstrated in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea and secondly how government policy in South Korea has established forests over a nation stripped of forest by war.
The garden will represent a piece of regenerating wild Korean woodland. Eden is creating it because the story of plants regenerating an area reflects its own heritage as a former quarry which was barren and sterile before the project was built.
The garden features lilacs, oaks and magnolias native to the DMZ area. It will also host Aristolochia manshuriensis and Aristolochia contorta, hardy relatives of the tropical Dutchman’s pipe, also known as birthwort or pipevine and found in Eden’s Rainforest Biome.
A rare small apple species native to North Korea and China, Malus komarovii, which is endangered and not available commercially, is also being sourced and, when planted, could be the first example of the species in the UK.
As well as a selection of plants, the garden will boast features quintessential to Korea, including a pavilion inspired by Korean temples and palaces and a dry riverbed.
The garden will complement Eden’s existing Wild Cornwall landscape, the North American Prairie and a planned outdoor South African veldt. Each of these has a specific message about ecological regeneration around the world.
A video of HyeYoung and Julie talking about the new garden is available at here.