Over 60,000 plants, grasses, herbs and flowers from across the globe have been grown in an Ashford nursery and planted along with 60,000 bulbs in the Olympic Park London 2012 Garden.
The riverside garden stretches for half a mile between the Aquatics Centre and Olympic Stadium and celebrates centuries of British passion for gardens and collecting plants. Over 120,000 plants from 250 different species across the world have been arranged into four temperate regions in the garden: Europe, Americas, Asia and the Southern Hemisphere.
For the second year running the riverbanks around the Olympic Stadium are blooming with golden meadows of cornflowers, marigolds, Californian poppies and prairie flowers especially designed and sown to flower gold just in time for the Opening Ceremony. There are over ten football fields worth of nectar-rich annual and perennial wildflower meadows in the Olympic Park, designed by international wildflower experts from the University of Sheffield.
Olympic Delivery Authority Chairman John Armitt said: 'The 2012 Garden and wildflower meadows will help create a festival atmosphere right at the entrance to the Olympic Park during and after the Games. The riverside gardens are a colourful celebration of the British passion for gardening as well as the world-leading work of the UK horticultural companies helping to create this fantastic new park.'
Planting is nearing completion on the 250 acres of new parklands, on former industrial land, that will provide a colourful and festival atmosphere for the London 2012 Games and afterwards become the largest new urban park in the UK for over a century. Thousands of trees and wetland plants have already been planted, lawns laid and meadows sown across the Park.
London 2012 Garden factfile
Europe includes:Crocus; Daffodil; Primrose; Mont Blanc, Drumstick and Bulgarian Onion; Woodruf; Milky Bellflower; Corn Flower; ‘Mayflower’ Geranium; Marsh Spurge; Shasta Daisy; Jerusalem Cross; Loosestrife; Turkish Sage; Devils Bit Scabious; Globeflower; Yellow Oxeye.
Americas includes:Evening Primrose; Wild Quinine; Wild Petunia; Butterfly Milkweed; prairie Daisies, Asters, grasses and Coneflower; Bush’s Poppy Mallow; Tickseed; Rattlesnake Master; Prairie Smoke; Indian Physic; Tall Blazing Star; Jacob’s Ladder; Compass Plant; Soapweed Yucca; Verbena.
Asia includes:Black Iris; Japanese Anenome; Korean Feather Reed Grass; Tiger, Foxtail, Red and Tall Boy Plantain Lily; Japanese Flamingo and Silverfeather Grass; Moorhexe and Transparent Moor Grass; Giant Fleeceflower; Oriental Burnet; Firetail Bistort.
The Southern Hemisphere includes:African, Bugle and Pineapple Lily; South African Thistle; Orange New Zealand Sedge; Kangaroo Grass; Angel’s Fishing Rods; Weeping Love Grass; Cape Hyacinth; Ruby Butterfly Gladiolus; Everlasting Golden Strawflower; Red Hot Poker; Drakensburg Tritonia.
- Young up-and-coming London-based designer Sarah Price has designed the planting alongside LDA Design.Hargreaves Associates and James Hitchmough from the University of Sheffield.
- Planting is close to completion and work is continuing on the paths, drainage and seating.
- Nectar-rich plants have been selected to provide food for wildlife as well as look beautiful, celebrating the role of domestic gardens in providing urban habitats for wildlife.
- The garden will be fully accessible gardens with gentle slopes and comfortable timber seating with spaces for wheelchairs.
- Night time lighting will enable the gardens to be used into the evenings.
Olympic Park meadows
- More than a quarter of the plants for the 2012 Garden were not grown commercially in the UK and an extensive investigation was required to track down rare seeds, cuttings and bulbs.
- These have included hundreds of South African plants grown from a small collection in Ireland and seed collected in South Africa and thousands of rare white Chrysanthemums as well as tall Asian lilies grown from clumps provided by specialist UK display gardens. Other rare plants being grown include the ‘Compass Plant’, used by Native Americans to navigate the prairies and ‘Summer Beauty’, an unusual flowering onion from Europe. Download Images of some of the flowers.
- Over ten hectares of annual and perennial meadows are being created in the Olympic Park, designed and sown to flower during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
- The annual meadows around the Olympic Stadium are a vivid combination of tickseed, cornflower, corn marigold, star of the veldt from South Africa, Californian poppy and Plains Coreopsis that moves from yellow and blue in July to gold in August.
- The meadows, which are sown on an annual basis, are being trialed for the second year to perfect the team’s extensively researched technique of irrigation, late sowing and cutting back that will ensure the flowers peak for the Opening Ceremony in 2012.
- A combination of shorter and taller perennial meadows, which require only a single seeding, have been sown across the Olympic Park, mainly in the north of the parklands.
- The shorter meadows on drier sunny slope are a colourful mix of Thyme, Calamint, oringanum, vipers bugloss and wild carrot. The taller meadows on shadier slopes include musk mallow, meadow cranesbill, devils bit scabious, red clover, bloody cranesbill and great burnet.
- The meadows have been designed to be nectar and pollen rich, diverse and with a long flowering season to encourage a range of bees, butterflies, birds, moths and other insects. Specific plants and flower species have been selected to encourage particular wildlife, for example the Marsh Fritillary butterfly need Devils Bit Scabious for their caterpillars and Burnet Moths congregate around Knapweed flowers.
- The meadows are being sown in especially designed low nutrient soil, with a high sand content, to ensure a diverse mix of flowers and to discourage weeds.
- After the Games the meadows will gradually incorporate a range of grasses, naturally and through oversowing, so they become self-sustaining and support particular butterfly larvae such as Meadow Brown.
Notes to editors
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For further information please contact the Olympic Delivery Authority Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 700.
The construction of the venues and infrastructure of the London 2012 Games is funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Mayor of London and the London Development Agency.
Find out the latest from London 2012 HQ on our blog
- Download images of the London 2012 Gardens and wildflower meadows
- Palmstead Nurseries, from Wye near Ashford, grew and supplied the plants for the London 2012 Gardens.
- LDA Design • Hargreaves Associates was selected to design the Olympic Park parklands. They are supported by James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett of University of Sheffield, Sarah Price Landscapes, Sutton-Vane Associates and Waterwise Solutions.
- Skanska is undertaking the landscape works in the south park supported by Willerby Landscapes, who have also carried-out the Stadium landscape works, Arup Landscape and English Landscapes.
- As principal horticultural and planting design consultants to LDA Design• Hargreaves Associates Professor James Hitchmough and Dr Nigel Dunnett from the University of Sheffield have applied their research on the development of sustainable, ecologically based, biodiverse but visually rich urban vegetation to the Olympic Park parklands.
- Tim O’Hare Associates is providing advice on soils and drainage.