How Green Was Our Olympic Park

When London’s bid for the 2012 Olympics was presented, part of the arguments would be centered on its eco-credentials. It would be a public transport based Olympics, energy would be renewable. Well, some of it would be.

…and the Olympic Park itself would be very green indeed – with masses of planting around the site.

The planting is probably helped in great part by the location itself, with several canals running through it, and thanks to the land clearance that swept away any vestige of history about the place… lots of landfill to pile up into nice little hills.

The green Olympic Park

Unsurprisingly, the flowering plants have been chosen to look their best in late July/early August, which means in legacy terms they are useless as people using the park in the years to come will want an all-year round display. Nick-picking aside though, the planting has turned parts of the park into rural idylls of wildflowers and waving grasses.

The fresh lain lawns yesterday had a bounce in the turf that almost had me wanting pull of the shoes and walk around barefoot. Its probably flattened by now.

The green Olympic Park

One concern I have had about the regeneration of the area was how old irregular paving around the canals was being replaced with single material homogeneous tarmacs and losing their decades old character, but the planting around them really does kill off such concerns. And a few bits have been left without paths at all and are now riverside meadows.

I very much also like the contrast in some places between sharply defined lawns and perfectly manicured edges, and the wildflower borders. I am also somewhat baffled as to how they managed to create this effect with the grasses in some places – which seems to my mind to imitate the waves in the canal beside them.

The green Olympic Park

Although you can get from any location in the Park via the main walkways, I think you’ll miss the real delight the park has if you stick up there and don’t wander around the place by the canal side routes. They are not dead ends, but perfectly valid routes around the place.

The green Olympic Park

A steep slope down to the big screen was yesterday afternoon packed with people. And the screen itself cleverly sits in a canal that has been planted up as a watermeadow, with some small streams off to wildlife ponds.

The green Olympic Park

A lot of people were stopping and admiring the flowers, with some more knowledgeable types chattering to each other about what plants have been used. In fact, that is the one thing missing – a guide to the plants, as I am sure a few thousand gardens in the UK will want to have their own small patch of Olympic planting next year.

Some enterprising garden centre will probably sell a DIY kit shortly with all you need to grow your very own patch of Stratford.

The green Olympic Park

There is also an incredible amount of wildlife in the park. Either it has been colonised very quickly, or they have shipped in a few hundred small fluffy things to flutter around spectators heads in a decorous manner. The birds were especially noticeable at the slope overlooking the Velodrome.

Nearer to Victoria Gate is a small park with games and things, apparently designed by children. As some people sat on benches next to a wall of planting and munched on lunch, I noticed that what appeared to be a large percentage of a bee hive busy doing their thing on the flowers.

Humans and bees seemingly totally obvious of each other less than a foot apart.

A few small expanatory signs in the pavement are dotted around, and collectively they have installed… 525 bird boxes; 150 bat boxes; 8 toadlfax habitats for moths; 4 grass-snake egg laying sites and 2 otter holts.

Another sign says that many of the plants have been chosen as they are “extremely valuable” for the above wildlife.

The green Olympic Park

Even if you have no interest in sport, I would still say a park entry ticket is going to be worth the £10 entry fee just to see the gardens. And if you can work out how to get one of those £10 park entry tickets off the London2012 website, then tell me about to do it as well please.

Then I can go back and wander around the gardens again.

Some more photos over here.

 

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12 Comments

  1. If you go to the official ticket booking site, enter the venue as Olympic Park and leave everything else at default it will show all available tickets (although you won’t be able to be picky about dates obviously). I did that yesterday morning and picked up a £10 ticket for paralympic athletics in the Olympic Stadium in a month’s time…

    • IanVisits

      Hmm, that’s what I thought and it keeps saying nothing is available. Will try again another day in case it was an Olympian glitch.

  2. Gillian Lawrence

    great account. really enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

  3. Kevin

    Keep trying, they are releasing tickets ALL the time :)
    And of course you can follow up after the events to see what it does end up like.

  4. Frank Bath

    I like it that they have used British meadow flowers to give our hard pressed insect life a chance. We really do have some beautiful weeds.

  5. Frank Bath

    Oh, also like the Boris hair cut grass.

  6. Michael

    Ian, best to click onto Paralympics tab and select Olympic park venues, not Olympic day pass – but cheap seats to an event (eg goalball at £15) that includes a day pass so you can are guaranteed some sport and can also get into other events on the day too as well as look around.

  7. Henry Tapper

    We went early on Saturday morning (28th). The place was as you describe it – we came for the sport but left with a good feeling about the park.

    Great to see such attention to detail and , as far as we could see, great to see people respecting the habitat and getting off on a natural as well as a sporting high.

    Lot’s to like

  8. Ianxn

    The flattened long grass was just because on Friday night when I was there, people were sat all over it!

  9. I got an Olympic Park day pass for the Paralympics in early September back when LOCOG released what was supposed to be the very final round of tickets (before the current mess). Unfortunately all the flowers and wildlife will be finished by then, and I can’t help but think the park’s going to look very dull indeed. That’s why a good mix of planting for all seasons is important…

  10. James

    The flowers should still be there for thr Paralmpics:

    http://www.nigeldunnett.info/Londonolympicpark/annual%20meadows/

    must continue in full flower throughout the games and Paralympics

  11. Carol

    Went over there last Sunday. The planting is what I really wanted to see but missed so much, so the pics are great. I do worry about how it will look once it is open to the public but can’t wait to go over once all the hoo haa is over next year. I have tried to get more park passes but they seem to be rarer than hens teeth

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