Olympic ‘fields of gold’ win a medal of their own

Olympic site, Stratford, London, 14-9-11
Olympic site, Stratford, London, 14-9-11
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GOLDEN wildflower meadows buzzing with bees which brought colour and life to the 2012 Olympic Park in London have won a prestigious national award for their Sheffield creators.

Professor Nigel Dunnett from The University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape was presented with a Contribution to Colour prize at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum.

Judges said it was rare for a ‘landscape-related application’ to be recognised. The honour - a category in the Dulux Let’s Colour Awards - was set up with fashion and interior designers in mind.

Prof Dunnett told The Star he was delighted by the win - the culmination of work started in Sheffield around 15 years ago.

In the late 1990s he and Prof James Hitchmough embarked on a research project at the Botanical Gardens, to bring colourful wildflowers cheaply into public parks.

The first floral fields were planted at Concord Park, Weston Park and Meersbrook Park, and that eventually led to the creation of Pictorial Meadows, a sustainable city company part-owned by Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Green Estate, making and selling wildflower seed mixes for parks, open spaces and people’s back gardens.

“Around 2007 the Olympic planners heard about us, decided they must have wildflower meadows for the Park, and came up to Sheffield to see our work,” said Nigel.

“Everything that happened subsequently in London was tried and tested in Sheffield.”

Prof Dunnett is currently working on a Cleared Sites Programme in Sheffield, developing vibrant seed mixes to be scattered on demolished plots and derelict eyesores awaiting redevelopment.

He is also helping for the next two years with the ‘transformation phase’ of the Olympic site, turning the East End plot into a public park for future generations.

Prof Dunnett said spring is the perfect time for gardeners to sow wildflowers seeds – ready for blooming Sheffield gardens this summer.

Mixes, including the Olympic Golden Girl seeds, are available at www.pictorialmeadows.co.uk