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Blooming marvellous -budding gardeners given the chance to design a great British Garden on the Olympic Park

Blooming marvellous -budding gardeners given the chance to design a great British Garden on the Olympic Park

DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (053/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service on 8 April 2009

Green-fingered Brits will have the chance to help design a Great British Garden on the London 2012 Olympic Park thanks to a nation-wide competition launched today by Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

Run in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), 'The RHS Olympic Park Great British Garden Competition' is designed to showcase one of the nation's favourite pastimes of gardening, whilst commemorating the Much Wenlock Olympian Society in Shropshire, whose games inspired Pierre de Coubertin to found the modern Olympic movement.

Amateur gardeners from across the country will be asked to submit ideas for a quarter acre site expressing the unique qualities of a British domestic garden within contemporary parkland, so that visitors feel like they are wandering through someone's garden.

Six finalists will be shortlisted by a panel of experts before being put to a public vote in September 2009. Winners will be chosen from two categories, one 16 or under and one 17 and over.

The winners will work with the team of world-class landscape architects and garden designers on the Olympic park to design a great British Garden that will be in bloom during the London 2012 games and remain in legacy.

The competition, part of the London 2012 Inspire programme, will be open to all. Simple entry forms can be downloaded from . Entrants can submit their forms by post. All entries need to be in by July 31st 2009.

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell said:

"London 2012 will showcase everything that's great about Britain, and there's nothing quite as reassuringly British as spending an afternoon pottering around the garden. That's why I want to see a Great British Garden on the Olympic Park.

"If gardening were an Olympic sport then green fingered Brits would win gold, silver and bronze. So what better way to build it than by digging into the well of gardening talent and enthusiasm across the country?

"This competition, run by the RHS, will give two amateur gardeners the chance to help build a beautiful British garden on the Olympic park. That's great for British gardeners, great for the Olympics and great for the millions of people who will come to the Olympic park in 2012."

Inga Grimsey, Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society, said:

"Great Britain is a nation of great gardeners. Gardening has been part of our social and cultural make-up for generations. This competition is a fantastic opportunity for the nation to celebrate its passion for plants, get involved in gardening and for the winners to literally get their hands dirty and help to build the Olympic dream.

"The RHS is incredibly proud to be involved in this project. If we can nurture the nation's interest in gardening, by being a partner in this competition, then we too will have helped to create a legacy that goes beyond 2012."

ODA project sponsor for Parklands and Public Realm John Hopkins said:

"This is a fantastic opportunity to be involved in creating a part of the parklands that will both form a green backdrop to the London 2012 Games themselves and new public space in legacy. The Great British Garden will celebrate both the heritage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and British gardening traditions, something that will be reflected throughout the Olympic Park parklands."

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said:

'Britain has the best gardens in the world, so it is fitting that the Olympic Park will show off our top gardening talent in this way, also creating a wonderful garden for Londoners to enjoy for many years after the Games. Today is a rallying cry for our army of amateur gardeners to rise to this once-in-a-lifetime horticultural challenge.'

The inspiration for the modern Olympic Games can be traced back to British doctor, William Penny Brookes who held the first Much Wenlock 'Olympian Games' in 1850. It was after a visit to Much Wenlock in 1890 that Pierre de Coubertin, the founding father of the modern Olympic Games, was convinced to organise the 1896 inaugural Olympic Games in Athens. Entrants will be asked to consider opportunities to incorporate a 'de Coubertin' Oak tree, currently being grown in Kew from seedlings taken from an oak tree de Coubertin planted himself in Much Wenlock, into their garden design.


1. In 2012 the Olympic and Paralympic Games return to London. The Olympic Park in east London will provide the focus for the Games with the main stadium and several other venues arranged around the spectacular parklands either side of the rivers and waterways within the Park. The Parklands, which will remain in legacy for all the public to enjoy, bring together the great British tradition and passion for landscape and garden design, plant collecting and gardening

2. Entrants will be asked to submit their ideas for the 'The RHS Olympic Park Great British Garden Competition' by July 31st 2009.

3. Entry forms can be downloaded from Entrants must outline their idea for the garden on a written/typed A4 sheet of paper - which should include its inspiration, a broad-brush out-line of the type of plants, flowers, trees, features and furniture to be used. Entrants must also submit a layout of their design with the entry form.

4. Entrants are free to use whatever plants, flowers and trees they feel reflect a British Garden. Seating and water features may also be incorporated into the design.

5. A short-list of three entries from each category will be selected by a panel of experts before being put to a public vote in September 2009. Work will begin on the garden in 2010.

6. The winners will work with the team of world-class landscape architects and garden designers of the Olympic Park. This will require entrants to be available to attend three, day-long design workshops in London over a period of six weeks - one for design inception, one for design evolution and one for design completion; and three, day long on-site construction sessions on the Olympic Park over a period of six months - one for ground-breaking, one during construction and one on completion of the garden. Travel and accommodation expenses will be paid. The Olympic Park is fully accessible.

7. The competition is now part of the London 2012 Inspire programme. The London 2012 Inspire programme is an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the London 2012 Games; a broad participation programme spanning sport participation, medal table performance development, culture, education, sustainability, business skills and volunteering. New opportunities are being created to inspire young people and encourage the whole of the UK to join in.

8. The garden will be part of over 100 hectares of open space that will be created in the Olympic Park - the largest urban park created in Europe for 150 years, which will include 45 hectares of wildlife habitat. It will use the latest green techniques to manage flood and rain water while providing quieter public space and habitats for hundreds of existing and rare species from kingfishers to otters.

9. For further information please call Sally Aldous, Olympics Desk, DCMS Press Office on 020 7211 6145 or Georgina Webb, Royal Horticultural Society Press Office on 020 7821 3044.

Public enquiries: 020 7211 6200

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