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27.09.05
Cornwall Comes to Kew

Kew Gardens will play host to the launch of a new venture aimed at boosting awareness of Cornish plants, flowers and aromatic products, on Tuesday 4th October. CornishOasis.com is a gateway website created by a team of young creatives, IT specialists and gardening experts, supported by the Objective One delegated grant scheme Cornish Horticultural Enterprises.

By uniting a collection of gardens, nurseries and related businesses, the site offers a wide range of plants, flowers, and natural beauty and culinary products made using plants and plant extracts, including the first commercially marketed tea grown in Britain, from the Tregothnan Estate near Truro.

"We are all very excited about the launch of the website. Not only are the products unique, the people responsible for cultivating, producing and supplying them all have exceptional stories to tell," explains Camilla Marsh, project manager.

Many of these intriguing stories are revealed on the site. The designers of Princess Diana's wedding shoes have been running a nursery specialising in hardy exotic plants for over twenty years, while Ben and Shonna Hands, the couple behind the Fowey Candle Company, cultivate their own plants from which they extract the essential oils that scent their hand-poured candles.

Mark and Lisa Mathews are the fourth generation of a family who have been growing lilies near Penzance on land renowned as the 'golden mile', while herbalist Dr Mariano Speizia and his wife Loredana use the cycles of the sun and moon to work their magic on their natural skincare and beauty range.

Cornwall's luscious plant life hides tales of adventure, discovery, secrets and treachery stretching back hundreds of years. Its mild climate offered ideal growing conditions for the cuttings and seeds bought back by plant hunters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Today, Cornwall boasts some of the finest collections of plants in Britain, including camellias, rhododendrons and many more. The plantsmen and plantswomen of Cornwall share in the knowledge and passion passed down from previous generations, enabling them to offer high quality products supported by long standing expertise.

CornishOasis.com aims to make this specialist knowledge accessible to a wider, national audience. The site will appeal to gardeners and non-gardeners alike, with a quick search facility for those wishing to source a particular plant for the home or garden and bags of information, hints and practical advice for anyone seeking a little inspiration.

As Camilla explains: "When we started the project, we wanted to create a site with a magazine quality and appeal to it. With the help of our garden designer Chris Greene, we have built a number of virtual gardens to show visitors how different plants can be combined to create particular looks and styles. Our aim is to inspire and excite people about gardens and gardening, and to get them thinking about plants as part of their lifestyle."

The eventual aim is for people to be able to use the site to purchase products from the gardens and nurseries, and in 2006 the team plan to introduce a central e-commerce facility to handle and coordinate all online sales.

"Many people visit the region each year, attracted by Cornwall's plant life and gardens. This website will enable them to enjoy a little piece of the county in their backyard – their own oasis!"

For further information please contact Camilla Marsh of Cornish Horticultural Enterprises on 07968 044272 or email: camilla.marsh@chenet.org.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Cornish Horticultural Enterprises through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Maria Ford, at Government Office South West - 01752 635015 - before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

CornishOasis.com is a Spearhead Initiative directed by Cornish Horticultural Enterprises (CHE) Ltd, an organisation funded by Objective One.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk