Olympic Stadium Wildflower Meadows Sown to Flower Gold This Summer

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After two years of trials and research, the UK’s largest ever man-made wildflower meadows were sown this week to flower gold around the Olympic Stadium in 77 days’ time.

Olympic Stadium wildflower meadows sown to flower gold this summer

Olympic Stadium wildflower meadows sown to flower gold this summer

After years of preparation and two practice runs we have sown the final meadows that will run like a ribbon of gold around the Olympic Stadium

After two years of trials and research, the UK’s largest ever man-made wildflower meadows were sown this week to flower gold around the Olympic Stadium in 77 days’ time.
The riverbank meadows of bee-friendly cornflowers, marigolds, Californian poppies and prairie flowers have been especially designed to flower late by international wildflower expert Professor Nigel Dunnett from the University of Sheffield. They will bloom gold just in time for the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

The sowing of the last of more than ten football fields’ worth of nectar-rich wildflower meadows marks the final preparations of the gardens, lawns, woodlands and wetlands that will provide the colourful setting for the Games and become a new park for people and wildlife for generations to come.

The bulk of the planting of the 4,000 trees, 300,000 wetland plants, 15,000 square metres of lawns and more than 150,000 perennial plants and bushes in the Olympic Park and Village was completed in the autumn by the Olympic Delivery Authority. Throughout the winter and spring the dedicated team of specialist gardeners and horticulturists have been battling the elements to ensure that the Park reaches its colourful peak this summer. This has included wrapping trees through winter and cutting back thousands of early-flowering plants so that they reach their best in July.

Across the UK experts and novices are getting together with friends, families and neighbours to ‘Garden for the Games’ and bring the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to their area. Thousands have already signed up to be Local Leaders, pupils at Garnetbank Primary School in Glasgow have planted a wildflower meadow in their school playground and residents on Poplar, Tower Hamlets are brightening up their estate with wildflowers this summer. People can find out how to sow theur own wildflower meadow at http://www.london2012.com/localleaders

Seb Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said: ‘After completing our successful series of London Prepares test events we are preparing the Olympic Park to host millions of spectators this summer. Alongside fitting out the venues, installing hundreds of temporary buildings and a range of facilities for spectators and the workforce we are putting the finishing touches on the gardens, lawns and meadows that will provide the colourful setting for the Games.

‘The wildflower meadows timed to flower around the Stadium in July are just one example of the painstakingly detailed and innovative work of the team of experts that have created the Olympic Park that will be enjoyed by spectators during the Games and for generations to come.’

Professor Nigel Dunnett, University of Sheffield, said:

‘After years of preparation and two practice runs we have sown the final meadows that will run like a ribbon of gold around the Olympic Stadium. In just a few weeks visitors to the Olympic Park and TV viewers will see areas of flat mud transformed into waist-high wildflower meadows buzzing with bees and butterflies. London 2012 is a great opportunity to get out and Garden for the Games by sowing your own wildflower meadow. With a bag of seed from your local garden centre you and your neighbours can quickly and cheaply brighten up your area and give your local wildlife a boost.’

Sarah Raven, presenter of recent BBC2 documentary ‘Bees, butterflies and blooms’ and author of ‘Wild Flowers’, said:

’There's no better way to get almost instant colour and nectar into your garden than sowing an annual meadow mix – and with all this rain, it could not be a better time. Give the area a quick rake and then just scatter the seeds into any bare bit of ground in the sunshine. Within weeks the Olympic Park and potentially your garden will be ablaze with abundant colour as well as butterflies and bees, with all the food being provided. Do your own bit and join this brilliant initiative.’

Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said:

‘As we head towards the Games, the Olympic Park is really starting to take shape. In the space of just a few years, a predominantly neglected industrial area has been completely transformed as we cleaned and reshaped the land before planting thousands of trees and plants. The wildflower meadows are a timely reminder at just how close to the Games we are getting and their colourful depth and design is a tribute to the UK’s horticultural expertise.’

Olympic Park meadows

  • More than 10 hectares of annual and perennial meadows have been 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, which moves from yellow and blue in July to gold in August.
  • The meadows, which are sown on an annual basis, have been trialled during the last two years 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, were sown two years ago across the Olympic Park to allow plenty of time for them to establish before the Games. Many of these seeds were frozen to trick them into thinking they had over-wintered to quicken germination and ensure they flower in time.
  • The shorter meadows on drier sunny slopes are a colourful mix of thyme, calamint, origanum, viper’s bugloss and wild carrot. The taller meadows on shadier slopes include musk mallow, meadow cranesbill, devil’s 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 needs devil’s bit scabious for its caterpillars and burnet moths congregate around knapweed flowers.
  • The meadows are being sown in specially 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.

Parklands fact-file:
Features of the Olympic Park parklands during and after the Games include:

  • 4,000 new 4-7-metre-high semi-mature trees, with more than 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. More than 30 species of native reeds, rushes, grasses, sedges, wet wildflowers and irises have been grown initially on the Gower peninsula 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 overlooks 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', 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.
  • Images of the final Olympic Park wildflower being sown and Professor Nigel Dunnett in a newly sown meadow by the Olympic Stadium can be downloaded at http://mm.gettyimages.com/mm/nicePath/locog?nav=pr167323369

London 2012 Local Leaders
The ‘Local Leaders’ programme, an Organising Committee first, invites people across the UK to create their own Games celebrations. The programme is open from now up to the Olympic Torch Relay and other key moments during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

London 2012 organisers are encouraging anyone who is looking to celebrate the London 2012 Games to sign up to be a Local Leader.

Whether they invite three friends or their whole community, London 2012 will provide them with the tools to make their celebration one to remember.

For people who want to be involved they just need to pick an occasion and get planning. The Local Leaders website, has ideas, tools and tips to get people started planning an event.

Ideas put forward from communities across the UK include Garden for the Games, Line the Streets for the Olympic Torch Relay, hosting a sports quiz, party at home by throwing an Opening Night In and Super Saturday, the big medal-winning weekend during the Games.

Tips for Local Leaders on how they might ‘Garden for the Games’ include simple guides to:

  •      Plant your own Olympic Rings or Paralympic Agitos in your garden
  •     Grow golden marigolds for when the Olympic Torch Relay comes to your street or town
  •     Sow a colourful wildflower meadow - either a small strip in your garden or a large patch in a community area - which doubles as a haven for bees and other wildlife, like the golden meadows around the Olympic Stadium
  •     Get creative with vegetables and flowers in the London 2012 colours
  •     Grow a champions’ feast for a London 2012 party
  •     Plant in team colours to support your athletes or teams training in your area. Team GB supporters will be decking their lawns in red, white and blue.

Notes to editors:
For further information please contact the London 2012 Press Office.

London 2012 Games partners:
The Worldwide Olympic Partners who support the London 2012 Olympic Games and the National Olympic Committees around the world are Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos, Dow, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.
LOCOG has seven domestic Tier One Partners - adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF and Lloyds TSB. There are seven domestic Tier Two Supporters – Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook and UPS. There are now twenty-eight domestic Tier Three Suppliers and Providers – Aggreko, Airwave, Atkins, Boston Consulting Group, CBS Outdoor, Crystal CG, Eurostar, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, G4S, GSK, Gymnova, Heathrow Airport, Heineken UK, Holiday Inn, John Lewis, McCann Worldgroup, Mondo, NATURE VALLEY, Next, Nielsen, Populous, Rapiscan Systems, Rio Tinto, Technogym, Thames Water, Ticketmaster, Trebor and Westfield.
There is one domestic Tier One Paralympic Games-only Partner, Sainsbury’s and one domestic Tier Three Paralympic Games-only Supplier, Otto Bock. The London 2012 Paralympic Games also acknowledges the support of the National Lottery.

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