Olympic Park’s grasses and trees pack a punch

I hadn’t realised until being there just how huge the Olympic Park was and what an undertaking, gardening-wise, the whole thing had been.

It was late for the flowers when I visited (September 7) and many were going to seed. But it was still a joy to see swathe after swathe of grasses interspersed with cornflower, dimorphotheca, cosmos, calendula, anthemis, eschscholtzia or knapweed, mallow, hawkbit, chamomile, scabious and restharrow.

As I padded about, trying to make sense of the complicated waterways, it was touching to see so many people obviously loving their surroundings, embowered by flowers or at ease under trees, such as willow, alder, poplar, silver birch and cherry, well grown enough to lend shade on a hot afternoon. The conversation between two women peering at bumblebees on marjoram (“grey-tailed or buff-tailed?”) suggested that I was not alone in finding as much to interest in the flowerbeds as at the sports venues.

The drawback to looking closely was seeing what you didn’t want to see – the uninvited ruffians, nettle, burdock, bramble and thistle, already showing up at the party.

I haven’t found a website with details about future plant maintenance, for example, of the existing trees. Much of the landscaping is to change before the park, henceforth the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, reopens (the North Park in July 2013 and the South Plaza in spring 2014) but maintenance of the new planting is not mentioned – nor is the promised restoration of the Manor Park Allotments.


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I was, however, advised that this is not because it isn’t being thought about – it will all be sorted in due course. The trouble with maintenance is that the need for it goes on and on, long after the excitement of deadlines or glamour of grand events. But so far, so very good.

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