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Planting the Olympic Park

The Olympic Park

The Olympic Park

Press release issued: 14 November 2012

Professor Nigel Dunnett, one of the team behind the UK's largest ever man-made wildflower meadows at the Olympic Park, will be in Bristol tomorrow [Thursday 15 November] to talk about the processes leading up to those magical few weeks this summer.

Visitors to the Olympic Park were enchanted by the 25-acres of perennial and annual meadows, which could be viable alternatives to traditional bedding in public parks. Professor Nigel Dunnett will explain the designing and preparation of this landscape at a talk organised by the University of Bristol’s Botanic Garden.

Nigel is Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology and Director of the Green Roof Centre at the University of Sheffield and manages research programmes in sustainable landscape planting and green roof development.  He is active in design and consultancy, and writes widely for horticultural and gardening publications.

Professor Dunnett’s work revolves around innovative approaches to planting design and the integration of ecology and horticulture to achieve low-input, dynamic, diverse, ecologically-tuned designed landscapes, at small and large scale. Major areas of focus include green roofs, rain gardens, pictorial meadows and naturalistic planting design

While ecological ideas in landscape design have often been applied at the larger scale, Nigel’s focus is generally at the smaller scale: gardens, urban parks, on and around buildings and in high-density built developments. All aspects revolve around exciting and novel uses of plants, innovative planting design and application of ecological concepts to achieve low-input, dynamic, diverse, colourful and ecologically-tuned designed landscape.

Professor Dunnett, explaining his approach, said: “I start with a very simple premise. Many, if not all, of the major environmental problems facing cities can be traced back to a disconnect with nature, vegetation and green. These can be environmental, such as urban flooding, urban climate, urban biodiversity, or social well-being and health.

“A partial response to the great issues facing populations in an era of changing and unpredictable climate is to revegetate and green our cities: from the very smallest neighbourhood scale – the individual building, lot and backyard, through to the largest watershed or city-wide scale. In order for urban greening to be successful, it also has to be publicly acceptable and loved – it has to have an aesthetic aspect - there has to be a human element.”

Planting the Olympic Park organised by the Friends of the University’s Botanic Garden will take place on Thursday 15 November 2012 at 7.30 pm in the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, Room B75, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG.

Admission is £5 for non-members, free to Friends of the Garden (on production of membership card).  No booking is required.

Further information is available from the Botanic Garden, tel 0117 331 4906 or email


Further information

About the Botanic Garden

The garden is open during November, December, January, February and March on Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm, or dusk if earlier. The Welcome Lodge will be closed but informational leaflets will be available and a donation from non-Friends is requested. Disabled access and toilet facilities are available.

The garden also offers private day, evening and weekend guided tours for groups and gardening or any other leisure clubs. Please contact the garden for further information. There is a charge for the guide.

Directions to The Holmes

From the city centre go to the top of Whiteladies Road, at the junction and traffic lights go straight ahead across Durdham Down towards Stoke Bishop. At the traffic lights go straight ahead and take the first turning on the right into Stoke Park Road, The Holmes is 150 m on the right. Members of the public wishing to support the work of the Botanic Garden should join the Friends of the Garden. For more information go to or write to Susan Redfern, The Membership Secretary, 24 Dublin Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol BS9 4NA.

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