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Olympic flowers go for gold

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Olympic flowers go for gold

5 September 2010

An annual meadow designed and planted for the London 2012 Olympics is in spectacular full bloom at the east London site, two years before the first athletes arrive.

The meadow planting is being trialled to perfect the seed mix created for the Olympics by sustainable planting pioneers Dr Nigel Dunnett and Professor James Hitchmough at the University of Sheffield, well-known for transforming dozens of inner-city areas by seeding them with annual flowers.

Cornflowers, marigolds, Californian poppies and tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria) have been specially chosen for their golden colours and have been sown late in the season and then cut back to make sure they are in bloom throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

'We are extremely encouraged and excited by the results from the sowings this year,' said Dr Dunnett. 'To achieve this peak performance with a beautiful blend of colours at exactly the right time is no mean feat, and is based on many years of research and practical experience at the University of Sheffield.'

It is the first of 10 meadow areas to be planted in the Olympic Park, covering 10 hectares (25 acres) in all. Other meadow plantings include perennial meadows of differing heights, with plants designed to be nectar- and pollen-rich with a long flowering season such as thyme, marjoram, vipers bugloss (Echium vulgare) and meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense).

The meadows are part of the largest new urban park to be created in the UK for over a century. They include extensive wetlands and a new woodland planted on previous industrial land on the banks of the River Thames.

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