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Olympic garlands

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Garlands for Olympic athletes

15 November 2011

Schoolchildren around the world are taking inspiration from the native plants around them to create an Olympic garland fit for a 2012 athlete, in a competition run by botanic gardens to increase awareness of biodiversity.

The children must research the plants which best represent their country's natural flora and weave them together in a wreath which can include flowers, leaves, fruits and twigs. As well as a list of the plants in their wreaths, the children also have to give reasons for their choices and a conservation message related to one of the plants.

Some 15 botanic gardens have signed up to the competition so far, including four from the UK. It's hoped the project will encourage young people to think more about the threats facing native plants and biodiversity around the world. Botanic Gardens Conservation International, which is overseeing the competition alongside US educational programme The Fairchild Challenge, said plants and the Olympics have an association going back thousands of years to ancient Greece when winning athletes were crowned with olive branches.

Photographs of the wreaths will be displayed in London during the 2012 Olympic Games. Entries must be in by next April. 

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