Bicentennial Parklands in Sydney are hard to beat as a biological Olympic legacy, but they are adjacent to the Olympic site, not really part of it. Here in London, the 200 ha Olympic site contains various gardens and parklands, so it may well be the best Olympic Parkland ever.
Two things (apart from the Boris sculpture above) make it very London and very good: canals and meadows. The waterways, including ponds and floodplains, make the site less like an aerodrome. The meadows will add colour and texture – even now, in mid winter they are pretty enough with dusty grasses and flat-topped umbellifers.
On the southern side, the ‘2012 Gardens’ beside the canal are complex and symbolic. They represent the English flora, the North America flora and the rest of the world…well, actually the Southern Hemisphere as mostly found in South Africa. The contractor responsible for these, Willerby Landscapes, have taken great care to plant a colourful but diverse flora in each of the mini-biomes. If they match the enthusiasm and botanical knowledge of our guide today they will be plenty good.
The picture at the top of the posting is the Southern Hemisphere sections with some sensitive sedges under the long poly tunnel and two Australian wattles (Acacia!) wrapped in plastic and picture just above is fine detail of the Southern Hemisphere ground cover.
The Northern Parklands fill the large area between the media building, the beautiful Velodrome (below) and the temporary ‘bubbly’ basketball stadium. They include more natural plantings – meadows, a frog pond (above, with the logs), fish trails through a canal flood plain, birch forests and manicured lawns for picnics. Here two different contractors have been at work, with botanical and landscape advice from University of Sheffield I gather.
This is what I learned yesterday. We were invited and led today by David Stubbs, Head of Sustainability for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), assisted by David Lucas. With me from Royal Botanic Gardens Kew were David Barnes and Kath Smith. Here are David B, Kath and Dave S in their full protective gear.
Here am I, in my protective gear, through a mirror (on one of the new bridges) distortedly.
And as this is a primarily pictorial posting, a few more images from the site...