Eden Project, Cornwall
The Eden Project; like Kew Gardens but on steroids.
At least that was my first thought as I entered the largest indoor rain forest in the world, situated within one of two vast futuristic man-made biome structures that look like alien spacecraft among acres of landscaped garden.
Lush orchards of fruiting banana plants, pineapple, coffee, rubber, and giant bamboo sit alongside exotically coloured and delicately featured blooms including one of my favourite, Strelitzia or The Bird of Paradise.
Eye-catching crested partridges foraging for seeds, fruits and insects complete the tropical paradise vibe.
The other biome contains 1000's of plants that you would find in a Mediterranean type environment, although I did spy a couple of plants in there that were doing very well in my back garden. That's climate change for you.
Fields of lavender and wild flowers, bold displays of red-hot pokers nestling amongst Chinese windmill palms and golden, purple and red grasses, the kind of allotments I can only dream of alongside inviting spaces such as the 'Senses of Taste Garden' and 'Sense of Memory Garden'. The list goes on.
Located in the county of Cornwall, just under 5 hours drive from London, this fusion of ecology, horticulture, science, art and architecture is a mere baby compared to Kew. Constructed on the site of a disused china clay pit and opened 20 years ago, the external garden produces wow factors at every turn.
It's not just plants either, but some interesting sculptures and installations are cleverly incorporated into the landscape.
One of my favourites was a giant 'breathing' sculpture called 'Infinity Blue' that celebrates cyanobacteria, one of the world's smallest but most important organisms.
Random vapour rings are fired out of its sides; artistic bling at its absolute best.