Olympic Gold Meadows at London 2012



These glorious flower meadows surround the Olympic Stadium.  They are full of tiny flowers that don’t have much impact individually, but en masse they are almost too beautiful for words.  Can you tell I love flower meadows? Full of vibrant annual flowers that grow from seed, flower and finish all in the space of a year.  The vast meadows are the largest annual meadows ever used in a public park.  Professors Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough created the Meadows in their role as the principal consultants for horticulture and planting design at the Olympic Park.

They developed an ambitious planting strategy for the site, which promotes biodiversity and sustainability.  The park will be transformed for public use after the Olympic Games. The meadows are just one part of a huge planting scheme around the Olympic site.

There were specific requirements for the meadows.  They had to be in peak flower for the opening of the games, look good before the games and continue to flower throughout the games and Paralympics.  The colour requirements were yellow and gold, so the meadows could be known as ‘Olympic Gold Meadows’.

The ground at the site was highly contaminated, so a clay cap was used to seal the contamination beneath.  Sand and subsoil were layered on top, followed by top soil which the seeds were sown on. The planting sites were available in 2010 and 2011, so the site was sown to assess the quality and colour combinations chosen.  Annual plants flower and finish within the same year so the meadow was started again for the Olympics.

To sow the seeds they were mixed with sawdust, so the seed can easily be seen on the ground.  The seed was sown by hand at a rate of 2g per square metre.  The ground was then lightly raked and covered with biodegradable jute mesh to stop the rain washing the seed down the slopes.

The seeds were sown in late April to early May to ensure the flowers were at their peak during the games.  Native and non-native plants were used in the meadows.  Main plants include Cornflower, Corn Marigold hybrids, Star of Veldt, Pot Marigold and Prairie Tickseed.

The meadows were blue and orange earlier in the season and then gradually transformed to yellow and gold.  They will continue flowering until the frost in winter.

The meadows are stunningly beautiful and will continue to delight visitors for months to come.  Don’t forget the meadows will continue to flower after the Paralympics so you have plenty of time for a visit.  You can read more about the meadows and the other gardens at the Olympic Park on Nigel Dunnett’s website.



Nigel Dunnett

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