Some 250 acres of new parklands has been created from industrial land on the Olympic Park, providing a colourful and festival atmosphere for the London 2012 Games and afterwards.
The BBC's Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins helped mark the milestone by lending an expert hand to put in place the last plant in the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Olympic Park Great British Garden - a quarter-of-an-acre riverside garden overlooking the Olympic Stadium.
Images can be downloaded here
He was joined by Rachel Read, from Colchester, Essex, and 12-year-old Hannah Clegg, from Malmesbury, Wiltshire, who won the adult and child categories in a competition to design the Garden with the help of the ODA's landscape and planting team. They planted the first tree in spring 2011.
The Olympic Parklands contain 4,000 semi-mature trees, over 300,000 wetland plants and more than ten football fields worth of nectar-rich annual and perennial meadows designed and sown to flower during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In the south of the park, the RHS Olympic Park Great British Garden celebrates the unique qualities of the British garden through 2012-themed Gold, Silver and Bronze Gardens. Also, a riverside London 2012 Garden stretches for half a mile between the Aquatics Centre and Olympic Stadium and celebrates centuries of British passion for gardens and collecting plants, with picnic lawns, timber seating and 120,000 plants from 250 different species across the world arranged into four temperate regions: Europe, Americas, Asia and the Southern Hemisphere.
In the north of the park, 1,500 trees and over 300,000 wetland plants have been planted along alongside 15,000 square metres of riverside spectator lawns, timber seating, frog ponds, loggeries, wetlands, woodlands and tree-lined footpaths - creating a haven for wildlife and plants.
Chris Collins, Blue Peter gardener, said: "What has been achieved on the site in turning it from brown to green is remarkable. Spectators will find it hard not to be blown away next summer as the effort which has been put into creating a diverse and colourful park has really paid off.
This area of London is set to become an exciting new destination for families and friends after the Games."
ODA Chairman John Armitt said: "A new park has been created for London and it is a testament to the hard work and planning that has gone into the initial clean-up process and subsequent planting programme. It was a fitting end to the parklands programme that Hannah and Rachel could put the last plant into place.
"The Parklands have been achieved from the starting point of a site that was extremely difficult to access and much of it contaminated through decades of industrial use. Next summer, the results will be plain to see as visitors can enjoy lush green lawns, rows of trees and a rainbow of flowers from across the world. Beyond the Games, visitors will be able to enjoy this new park for years to come."
LOCOG Chairman Seb Coe said: "The Olympic Park will be a fantastic green setting for the Games and a great new park for London in legacy."
Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said: "The parklands are a key feature of the Olympic Park landscape and will give visitors a place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of London 2012 between sporting events. As we move beyond the Games the parklands will provide a great open space for the residents of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to enjoy."
Andrew Altman, Chief Executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, said:
"Millions of people will be able to enjoy these high quality parklands in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the Games. They will be a stunning backdrop for our events and visitor attractions, and a wonderful open space to serve the family neighbourhoods we will build.
"Legacy Plans for the Park are more advanced than any other previous host city and we are already shortlisting designs to create a visitor centre and a playground in the north park that will make it a hub of community life."
Winner of the adult competition to design the RHS Olympic Park Great British Garden Rachel Read said: "I feel very honoured to have been a part of such a huge and prestigious project. The garden has been transformed since we saw it last and has taken on a whole new dimension.
It fits in so well with the feel of the whole parkland and yet has the sense of the British Garden that we were trying to achieve. I'm looking forward to seeing people enjoying it for years to come."
Winner of the young people's section Hannah Clegg said: "The whole experience has been amazing. Working with the design team and actually seeing the garden come along has been great. I'm really pleased as to how much I've had to do with the garden, and I'm really excited about seeing the finished thing."
Features of the Olympic Park parklands during and after the Games
- 4,000 new 4-7-metre-high semi-mature trees, with over 2,000 trees grown in Hampshire already planted in the Olympic Park, including Wild and Bird Cherry, Ash, Hazel, White Willow, Crack Willow, Alder, Aspen, Holm Oak, English Oak, Rowan, Lime, field Maple, Sweet Gum and Silver Birch. The trees will provide shelter from wind and sunshine across the Park. Willow, Poplar and Alder have been planted in river areas to withstand flooding and species vulnerable to climate change have been avoided.
- More than ten football fields' worth of nectar-rich annual and perennial meadows were designed to flower during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- Wetland bowls and rare wet woodlands in the north of the Park create habitat and help manage floodwater, protecting new housing and venues and 5,000 existing properties from a 1:100 year storm.
- 300,000-plus wetland plants, grown in Norfolk and Wales, have been planted as part of the UK's largest ever urban river and wetland planting. Over 30 species of native reeds, rushes, grasses, sedges, wet wildflowers and irises have been grown initially on the Gower peninsular in Wales, with around a third grown from cuttings and seeds collected from the Olympic Park before construction started. The plants have been grown-on in coir mats sunk in waterbeds in Thetford and are now being transported and planted on the Olympic Park riverbanks.
- The riverside London 2012 Garden stretches for half a mile between the Aquatics Centre and Olympic Stadium on land that has been cleaned and cleared of railway sidings, contamination and Japanese Knotweed. The garden celebrates centuries of British passion for gardens and collecting plants, with picnic lawns, timber seating and 120,000 plants from 250 different species across the world arranged into four temperate regions: Europe, Americas, Asia and the Southern Hemisphere.
- A riverside Royal Horticultural Society Great British Garden overlooking the Olympic Stadium, featuring Bronze, Silver and Gold areas with matching colour wildflowers and grasses, features and running-track inspired spiral paths. The Garden also includes a 'de Coubertin oak', currently being grown at Kew Gardens from an acorn collected from the tree that Baron Pierre De Coubertin planted in 1894 to thank the citizens of Much Wenlock in Shropshire for inspiring the founding of the modern Olympic Games.
- New habitats for species including: otter, kingfisher, grey heron, bee, house sparrow, bat, song thrush, starling, toadflax brocade moth, lizard, black redstart, flower and fungus beetle, frogs, newts and toads, eel, water vole, slow worm, grass snake, linnet, sand martin, swift, and invertebrates.
- Feature planting designed by the Klassnik Corporation, We Made That and Riitta Ikonen - an art collective based in the Host Boroughs - and the University of Sheffield to represent the industrial heritage of the Olympic Park site.
- 250 benches and more than 3,300 seats built into the parklands so that people are never more than a 50-metre walk from a seat.
Further legacy features of the Olympic Park green space:
- The southern part of the Park will focus on retaining the Games spirit, with riverside gardens and areas for markets, events, cafes and bars in legacy.
- The northern area of the Park will use the latest green techniques to manage flood and rainwater while providing quieter public space and habitats for hundreds of existing and rare species.
- A six-metre-wide, one mile road cycle circuit built into the parklands around the Velodrome, with lighting for year round and evening use but low level UV values to protect bats. Also, 6km of off-road mountain bike tracks and a network of cycle paths across the Park including National Cycle Network Route 1.
- A large oval lawn with an amphitheatre setting in the north of the Park suitable for games, picnics and other leisure activities.
- More than two hectares worth of secure and accessible allotments the size of four football pitches.
- 5km of restored and accessible previously neglected rivers, including the original Carpenters Lock restored in a riverside bowl in the centre of the Park, connecting the northern and southern areas.
- Mounds and hills across the Park for tumbling in summer and sledging in winter.
- Temporary tree-lined daffodil, bluebell, clover and primrose meadows that vary through the seasons created on the development land on the northern entrance to the Park that may not be developed for many years. Rather than traditional construction hoarding which would deter people from using the Park, this unique use of parklands also reduces long-term security costs.
- Hanging gardens' thirty feet above ground on the huge footbridge from Stratford City with meadows, lawns, shrubs and rows of trees welcoming people over the main walking entrance into the Park.
- A tree-lined 'park road' into the north of the Park modeled on The Mall and Birdcage Walk next to St James's and Hyde Park, with distinctively designed surfacing, lighting and bollards and traffic management so visitors feel like they are in the Park.
- A new regional sports club set in parklands with a tranquil garden square centered on the original Eton Manor Boys' Club war memorial and lined with Sweet Gum trees which turn red around Remembrance Day.
- Large concourse areas reduced in size in legacy and broken up with 'islands' of plants, trees and meadows.
- Parklands around the Aquatics Centre including planted hills with seating providing views across the river to the 2012 Gardens.
Notes to Editor:
- Download images of today's completion event
- Download b-roll of the Olympic Park parklands
- Download images of the north park's Olympic Park in blossom, spectator lawns and wetlands.
- Download images of the south park's London 2012 Gardens and wildflower meadows
LDA Design * Hargreaves Associates was selected to design the
Olympic Park parklands in spring 2008 and detailed designs were published in November 2008. They are supported by James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett of University of Sheffield, Sarah Price Landscapes, Sutton-Vane Associates and Waterwise Solutions.
Bam Nuttall is delivering the parklands in the north of the Olympic Park, supported by Frost Landscapes Construction Ltd to undertaking the western soft landscape package and White Horse Contractors undertaking the eastern works. Erith is delivering the hard landscaping.
Skanska is undertaking the landscape works in the south park supported by Willerby Landscapes and English Landscapes.
Skanska is delivering the Great British Garden, as part of the landscaping in the south of the park, working with Willerby Landscapes.
Hilliers Nurseries in Hampshire provided the oak tree for the Gold Garden.
Land and Water Services delivered the wetlands in the west of
the Northern section of the Olympic Park parklands. White Horse Contractors delivered wetlands in the eastern section, which includes the formation of the two wet woodlands and three frog ponds. The detailed design of the river edge engineering and planting was carried out by Atkins.
Atkins is the Landscape Engineer for the north of the park, Arup Landscape for the south.
Palmstead Nurseries supplied the plants for the London 2012 Gardens.
Hilliers Nurseries in Hampshire supplied over 2,000 semi-mature trees for the Olympic Park.
Salix supplied over 300,000 wetland plants for the Olympic Park.
Tillers Turf Company supplied the turf for the north park spectator lawns which was grown in Lincolnshire.
Tim O'Hare Associates is providing advice on soils and drainage.
- Ends -
For further information please contact the Olympic Delivery Authority Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 700 or visit the website at www.london2012.com.
Find out the latest from London 2012 HQ on our blog: