Fields of gold blossom at Olympic Stadium

Olympic stadium meadow

Blooming marvelous Professors help London 2012 flourish

After two years of trials and research, the UK’s largest ever man-made wildflower meadows are in full bloom at the Olympic Games.

The riverbank meadows of bee-friendly cornflowers, marigolds, Californian poppies and prairie flowers have been specially designed to flower late by international wildflower expert Professors Nigel Dunnett and Professor James Hitchmough from the University of Sheffield's Department of Landscape. The plants are now blooming gold just in time for the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony to ensure they are at their best.

The sowing of the last of more than ten football fields’ worth of nectar-rich wildflower meadows are now complete and the gardens, lawns, woodlands and wetlands that will provide the colourful setting for the Games and become a new park for people and wildlife for generations to come.

Professor Nigel Dunnett, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, said: "After years of preparation and two practice runs we have sown the final meadows that will run like a ribbon of gold around the Olympic Stadium. In just a few weeks visitors to the Olympic Park and TV viewers will see areas of flat mud transformed into waist-high wildflower meadows buzzing with bees and butterflies.

Key facts

  • More than 10 hectares of annual and perennial meadows have been created.
  • The annual meadows around the Olympic Stadium are a vivid combination of tickseed, cornflower, corn marigold, star of the veldt from South Africa, Californian poppy and plains coreopsis, which moves from yellow and blue in July to gold in August.
  • The meadows have been trialled during the last two years to perfect the team’s extensively researched technique of irrigation.

"London 2012 is a great opportunity to get out and Garden for the Games by sowing your own wildflower meadow. With a bag of seed from your local garden centre you and your neighbours can quickly and cheaply brighten up your area and give your local wildlife a boost."

Professor Nigel DunnettThe bulk of the planting of the 4,000 trees, 300,000 wetland plants, 15,000 square metres of lawns and more than 150,000 perennial plants and bushes in the Olympic Park and Village was completed in the autumn by the Olympic Delivery Authority. Throughout the winter and spring the dedicated team of specialist gardeners and horticulturists have battled the elements to ensure that the Park reached its colourful peak this summer. This has included wrapping trees through winter and cutting back thousands of early-flowering plants so that they reach their best this month.

Across the UK experts and novices are getting together with friends, families and neighbours to Garden for the Games and bring the excitement of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to their area.

Seb Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said: “After completing our successful series of London Prepares test events we are preparing the Olympic Park to host millions of spectators this summer.

“Alongside fitting out the venues, installing hundreds of temporary buildings and a range of facilities for spectators and the workforce we are putting the finishing touches on the gardens, lawns and meadows that will provide the colourful setting for the Games.

“The wildflower meadows timed to flower around the Stadium are just one example of the painstakingly detailed and innovative work of the team of experts that have created the Olympic Park that will be enjoyed by spectators during the Games and for generations to come.”

Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, said: "In the space of just a few years, a predominantly neglected industrial area has been completely transformed as we cleaned and reshaped the land before planting thousands of trees and plants.

“The wildflower meadows are a timely reminder of just how close to the Games we are getting and their colourful depth and design is a tribute to the UK’s horticultural expertise.”

James Hitchmough, Professor of Horticultural Ecology

Fields of gold

Additional information

London 2012
Olympic Games

The University of Sheffield's Department of Landscape
Department of Landscape

The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

The University’s research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.


For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859