The world’s largest flower has bloomed in Cornwall
A titanic stench has recently arrived in Cornwall with the blooming of the world’s largest flower at the Eden Project.
Endangered and rare are common shared features for the plants and flowers found inside the world famous Eden Project. However one flower in particular has got everyone talking this summer, and not just because of its outstanding height at 8ft and 5in, but rather, because of its delightful odour of rotting flesh.
The Titan Arums, which is otherwise known as Amorphophallus titanium (Latin name), are known for being the world’s largest flower, and one of these rare specimen is currently on display in the world’s largest greenhouse: Eden’s Rainforest Biome.
The giant flower bloomed on June 6th releasing with it an unusual odour that as previously mentioned smells like rotting flesh. Although the titanic stench seems very unpleasant to us humans, it is apparently a very attractive scent to insects.
Typically it is known that it takes between seven and 10 years for the Titan to grow. After this the flower is only in full bloom for 48 hours before it starts to collapse, making the smelly spectacle in St Austell a very rare opportunity for visitors to view.
The Eden’s Titan was grown by their resident expert Tim Grigg, and the flower is a relation of the projects original bloom, which flowered in 2005. Some of these specimens are known to reach just under 10ft (3m) in height when they finally flower.
Tim has nicknamed this plant 007 because it is seven years old and is also the seventh specimen to flower at Eden. Tim commented: “There really is no other flower remotely like it in size and sheer beauty. They are becoming more common in cultivation but are very rare in the wild. I wanted to raise awareness that the Titan Arum is very much endangered.”
The skilled horticulturalist has managed to successfully pollinate two of his previous Titans with a paintbrush that has been suspended on a stick in order to reach the tops of the tall flowers. This is a feat that is rarely accomplished, but both of the flowers fruited, producing more than 300 seeds.
The plant is originally from Sumatra, an island in Western Indonesia, where it is commonly referred to as the ‘corpse flower’ because of its peculiar fragrance. It is also said to be a distant relative of the ‘lords and ladies’, which is a British Lily.
Funnily enough, the common name of the flower, Titan Arums, was actually coined by Sir David Attenborough during the filming of the BBC’s Private Life of Plants series in 1995.
In the wild the Titan can be distinguished by a yellow, fleshy spike which is known as a spadix, which is wrapped up in a single, huge cream leaf.
When in bloom, as it is now at the Eden Project, the cream leaf opens to reveal a rich crimson inside and the spike heats up, attracting any pollinators with its disgustingly distinctive smell. Once pollinated, the flower produces fruit which would attract birds.
Luckily enough, the titanic flower has bloomed just in time for the Eden Project’s ‘Freaky Nature Events’ week which is currently taking place on the site until June 10th: this Sunday.
The purpose of Eden’s ‘Freaky Nature Events’ is to explore the survival tactics of plants. It will also be looking at the darker sides of plants, such as how and why some species have adapted to become toxic, sharp and even flesh-eating in order to survive.
One thing is for sure: the rare and unique blooming of this potent giant could not have come at a better or more suited time. For more information about the Eden Project or any corresponding events please visit their website.
alt-J’s ‘An Awesome Wave’ album review
A hauntingly beautiful debut album from the quirky quartet that is alt-J.
The Cambridge four-piece who originally met at Leeds University, have finally emerged with their debut album An Awesome Wave, and boy does this wave take you on an exciting journey through graceful folk melodies and hard-hitting underlying bass lines.
Alt-J could be placed as a very modern folk band. However the main reason this album is so refreshingly addictive is because it is constantly flitting to and fro between genres, including R’n’B, ‘folk-step’ and indie. You may think this mash-up of music sounds like one big headache waiting to happen, but the contrasting riffs along with Joe Newman’s hypnotic vocals are seamless and could not work any better together.
The album starts with the timeless ‘Intro’, which is a seductive mixture of guitar riffs and delicate piano chords followed by a complimenting ‘Foals’-esque bass line drop, which sets you up for what is to come. Every song on the album blurs into one another without fault and then explodes with different sounds and a multitude of original ideas, never getting old or sounding tired.
The one song on the album that has probably had most airtime so far in is ‘Breezeblocks’, a delightful R’n’B, ‘folk-step’ hybrid that is said to be based on the late Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. This is followed up ‘Dissolve Me’, where Newman’s calming vocals highlight the differences between alt-J’s compelling lyrics and the usual, unoriginal material sung about by other similar bands.
Alt-J aren’t shy about their blatant geeky-ness. After all, their name is the shortcut for a triangle symbol on a Mac, and one of the best thing about the album is the childlike playfulness of it. You get a real sense that An Awesome Wave was a chance for the band to explore: they even utilised the use of unusual items for instruments, such as a frying pan instead of a cymbal.
Ultimately An Awesome Wave is an awesome way in which the young band have harnessed their raw talent. Through a combination of huge bass lines and beautifully simplistic guitar riffs, Charlie Andrew has produced a solid grounding for the up and coming band. Also by not pigeon-holing themselves to any one genre, alt-J’s debut album is bound to appeal to a much wider audience.
One thing is for sure: exciting things are about to happen to this Leeds-born band, and they are definitely one to watch this year.
Additional Album Info:
Joe Newman (vocals), Gwil Sainsbury (bass) Thom Green (drums), Gus Unger-Hamilton (keyboards, backing vocals).
Release Date: May 28, 2012
Producer: Charlie Andrew
Student, surfer… and budding entrepreneur?
Joe Koa Briley (left) and brother Jacob Briley at March's SST event in Croyde
Starting up your own business is never going to be easy, especially if you are halfway through your degree. Against all odds, English with Creative Writing student, Joe Koa Briley, decided to do it anyway.
At a glance, Joe may look like any other third-year student found in the library at University College Falmouth, juggling their degrees with their personal lives. However how many students do you know that include the running of their very own business? Not a lot I’m guessing…
If you talk to him for just five minutes you won’t be able to escape the topic of surfing and his undeniable passion for the sport, and so it’s unsurprising that he has gone ahead and is now running up a company that supports the sport he loves, even if he is currently writing his second dissertation.
The 25-year-old set up the Student Surf Tour (SST) in May 2011 after noticing a serious lack in British inter-university surf competitions, and has been running events around the UK ever since alongside completing his degree. Sounds easy right?
“I’m originally from Birmingham but when I was ten my grandparents moved to Cornwall, so me and the family would spend every summer down here, body-boarding at Praa Sands. I finally moved to Cornwall when I was 19 before actually going to uni here, and was working in a mobile phone shop in Newquay believe it or not.”
When Joe started university in Falmouth, he took over running the student Surf Club which is when he noticed the gap in surfing competitions and so decided to change this. He wanted to bring more attention to surfing on a national scale and registered the SST as a company in May 2011, running its first ever event in the following month.
“I started the company because I wanted to do something different and I knew it was a great idea. It was a big risk but I wanted to make a change in an industry that wasn’t moving very much, and i’ve always liked the idea of running my own company.”
Believe it or not, the first person Joe contacted with his idea about the SST was his dad. With his dad’s reassurance that the idea was a good one it soon became a case of ‘How do we run a surf competition?’: “It’s not like there’s a step by step guide for these sort of things. You just have to figure it out for yourselves.”
Setting the company up wasn’t easy by any means for Joe. Inevitably there is a lot to think about including accounts, funding and permissions to name a few. “All of that has to be arranged before you can even start thinking about marketing, designing posters or promoting the events, it just doesnt stop.”
Joe was studying in his Second year at UCF when he first started the SST and was also working in a call center at the time. ”My advice to anyone who is at uni and is thinking about starting up their own company would be make sure you are being realistic. You need to keep your feet on the ground and don’t expect to make a fortune overnight.” He also suggests not to neglect your real friends as you will need them along the way. “If I could go back in time and change anything I would have spent less on stuff we didn’t need, like a three-piece suite for the first ever event…don’t ask.”
“I personally find the SST events are all still terrifying if i’m being honest. When you’re on a beach with 150 people wanting you to tell them what to do or where to go…until you get the first heat in the water the focus is so intense. There also usually something going wrong or something we’ve forgotten, but you just have to go with it, and try not to stress too much.”
It’s not all that bad though. Joe believes the best things about holding these competitions is that he gets to actively be involved with the sport he loves taking part in. Its also creates a great oppurtunity to chill with friends and after the events are finished theres a great sense of success and releif that makes all the streessful times worthwhile.
Overall there have been five SST events since the company was set up, four of which have been held this year. Each event gets bigger and the SST get better at what they do every time. “The SST now has a great team who work well together and understand each other, so the competitions run smoother and smoother with each one we hold, it’s great.”
“For now, SST’s future plans include holding more events, and next year we’re looking into running a College tour which I am very excited about. In the long run, if it all works out, I would love the SST to become a permanent part of British inter-university sports… that would be incredible!”
The circus returns to Eden
The Eden Project are welcoming back NoFit State Circus for a second summer, where they shall be showcasing a brand new, jaw-dropping show at the home of the Biomes.
After the huge success of last year’s sell out show ‘Labyrinth’, the NoFit State team “can’t wait to return” to Eden. The new, as-yet unnamed show will be written by Firenza Guidi and produced by the same team who brought Labyrinth to Eden in 2011: Tom Rack of NoFit State and Tom Critchley of the Eden Project. According to Critchley: “We are delighted to welcome back our friends for a brand new co-production that will have its world premiere at Bodelva.”
“Last year’s show was created especially for Eden’s tenth birthday celebrations. However it is intended that this year’s show will take the banner of Eden far and wide.” The 22-night production will run at Eden from Saturday July 28 to Sunday September 2 on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7.30pm before going on a world tour.
Tom Rack commented that the team can’t wait to return and that: ”Last year we fell in love with the stunning landscape and it seemed an instant fit for our promenade performance style. Eden is a fantastic setting for our style of circus and the spirit of the Eden team was an inspiration. We were enchanted with the idea that every visitor would have a unique and personal journey – and that they’d interact with the place in an entirely new way.”
The show was initially launched late March in the Project’s Mediterranean Biome where a contortionist, aerial rope acrobat, trampolinist and hula-hooper gave the audience in the Citrus Grove a taster of the new show, which will be themed around community.
Tickets are now available at a special early-bird price, which cost £15 for adults, £10 for concessions and £5 for children. To book, go to www.edenproject.com or call the Eden box office on 01726 811972.
Student Surf Tour takes on Croyde
The third stage of the UK’s newest national surf competition, Student Surf Tour, is set to take place at Croyde Bay in North Devon this weekend.
The SST was originally set up in March 2011 by Joe Koa Briley, a third-year student at University College Falmouth, and went on to run its first event a few months later in June, where over 150 students attended.
“The aim of the SST is to bring universities in the UK together to surf competitively”, said Joe Koa. He added: “Surfing has never previously had its own national competitive league, so the SST brings more attention to surfing on a national scale.”
The league currently has 20 active universities competing at the events with both male and female teams. Over 11 of these universities including Aberystwyth, Manchester and Oxford Brookes have been confirmed to compete in the third leg of the competition being held on the 16-18 of March.
The SST takes place all over the country – from Cornwall to Scarborough, and so different universities will attend depending on the location. However the competition has seen a rise in five or so “core regulars” who have attended all of the events so far.
“So far the first two legs of this season have taken place at Porthcawl in Wales and at Tolcarne in Cornwall, and were both a huge success, each getting bigger and better than the last. We’ve been getting a lot of coverage from UK surf media which is great- the more people who take part, the better.”
Following the succession of the first two SST events which took place in October 2011 and January 2012, the third stage in Croyde promises to be an interesting one, as Plymouth university are currently at the top of league tables with 760 points, shortly followed by Cardiff.