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Olympic rings spectacular unveiled

A floral spectacular is in bloom in front of the Orangery at Kew Gardens to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Aerial photo of the Olympic rings at Kew Gardens
Floral spectacular - the Olympic rings in bloom at Kew Gardens

100 days to go!

Millions of people around the UK are getting ready to welcome the world to London in 100 days time.

Pansy 'Light Blue'
Viola 'Light Blue' planted in the floral spectacular

70,000 volunteers are already a significant way through the million hours of training they will receive ahead of the eight million hours of volunteering they will deliver; over eight million people have said in a recent survey they are getting ready to line the streets and cheer the thousands of community heroes carrying the Olympic flame around the UK; two million school children are learning about the values of the Games and the countries and cultures of the 10,000 plus athletes from over 200 National Olympic Committees coming to the UK and eight million Olympic and Paralympic tickets will be in the hands of British sports fans by the summer.

A floral spectacular

Today sees the latest ‘spectacular’ installation of the Olympic rings unveiled - at Kew Gardens. The rings, which are 50m long, are made up of 20,000 plants and visible from the Heathrow flight path. The flowers were planted over a period of five days by a team of volunteers and Kew staff and consist of Viola ‘Light Blue’, Viola ‘Clear Yellow’, Viola ‘Black Delight’, apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) and Viola ‘Red Blotch’ plants. Find out more about horned pansy (Viola cornuta), the principle plant in our floral spectacular.

A ribbon of oak trees

To celebrate the UK’s role in the birth of the modern Olympic movement, a total of 40 'Coubertin Oaks' are being planted at venues around the UK. Trees grown from acorns taken from an English oak planted in 1890 during the visit of the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, Pierre de Coubertin, to the Wenlock Olympian Games will today be planted at Kew Gardens and at William Brookes School in Much Wenlock, Shropshire; the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum; and at the UPS London Central Centre, in Camden. Twenty-six 'Get Set' schools will also plant oaks as part of this project.

With 100 days to go to the start of the Games, millions of people are getting ready to do the best work of their lives and welcome the world this summer. There is a groundswell of support and excitement, not just in the UK, but internationally as the final countdown to the London 2012 Olympic Games begins.

Seb Coe, LOCOG Chair

Four Coubertin oaks will be planted in the Olympic Park, London, with others planted at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire, the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum; and at the UPS London Central Centre, in Camden.

 LOCOG Chair Seb Coe said, ‘With 100 days to go to the start of the Games, millions of people are getting ready to do the best work of their lives and welcome the world this summer. There is a groundswell of support and excitement, not just in the UK, but internationally as the final countdown to the London 2012 Olympic Games begins. Whether it’s the competing athletes or people getting ready to join their communities in supporting Torchbearers on the streets of the UK, the whole world is getting ready for London. Expectations are high, and we won’t disappoint.’

What else is happening?

Across the UK, thousands of people will be marking 100 days to go. At Weymouth and Portland, the venue for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing competitions, a giant sandcastle has been built featuring the Olympic Rings. There will also be activities including 'have a go' sessions and interactive video games at many Live Sites throughout the day on 18 April.

London 2012 Live Sites will be among the destinations in 22 towns and cities across the UK for communities to come together and cheer on the athletes this summer. Up to 500,000 people per day are expected to celebrate the Games at Live Sites throughout the country, and watch the sporting action on the big screens. The sites, run in partnership between London 2012, the BBC and local authorities, and supported by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor, partners BT and Lloyds TSB, and supporters Cisco and Cadbury, will become fully dedicated to London 2012 from May. Fully branded, there will be seating provided so crowds can watch the sporting action in style. Many Live Sites will also feature ‘have a go’ sessions for Olympic sports.

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30 April 2012
I visited this yesterday when I was at Kew Gardens for a big family event. It was lovely to see such beautiful colours in all the dull weather! I would love to be able to have seen this from the air, but am not likely to be flying this year anyway. I will be back later in the spring to visit Kew again; its been many years and I have once again realised what a beautiful retreat this is in the middle of London. I am planning to create some drawings from the photographs I took yesterday too (though probably not of the Olympic circles).
20 April 2012
Thank you for your question Maureen. Kew is not an official sponsor. LOCOG has approached a number of organisations and key iconic locations around the UK about hosting a 'Spectacular.' This week the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew showed its commitment to celebrating London 2012 with the set of floral Olympic Rings and the planting of a Coubertin Oak. In order to build anticipation, LOCOG will be marking a number of milestones in the lead up to the start of the Games in July with various events and announcements. LOCOG are working with various stakeholders to prepare for other Horticultural or Natural Spectaculars across the UK. There will be further Spectacular unveilings in the run up to the Games. Check the LOCOG website for updates
19 April 2012
Admire the skills required to layout the Olympic Rings it looks fantastic We have developed a cutting system for lawns that can create fantastic shapes for Flower Beds and Lawn Borders We can easily create the Olympic Rings on any Lawns and do it quickly and precisely I would love to show the guys at Kew how it works.
19 April 2012
What a fantastic idea. The rings look superb and are very creative. Just wish I was going on holiday so that I could see them from the air.
18 April 2012
was thrilled to see your brilliant creation.Isaw the BBC news this mornig and wished I could have seen for real! WELL DONE TO ALL CONCERNED IT LOOKS AMAZING HOPE TO SEE IT IN THE SUMMER,
18 April 2012
I can understand the use of Viola as they are quality plants, flowering over long periods and supplying punches of good colour. However, the aerial shots shown on the news items seem to be rather more than just flowers, so I guess there is an underlying coloured gravel to top up the brightness (or blackness in the case of the Viola 'Black Delight'. Great.
18 April 2012
Kew Gardens you must be so proud of such a visually beautiful design to mark the 100 days until the Olympics. It has been great to be a part of the project and feel the spectrum resin bound glass blends brilliantly within the coloured flowers beds that represent the Olympic rings.
18 April 2012
My understanding is there is extremely strict controls on the use of anything associated with the 2012 Olympics, is Kew Gardens an official sponsor of the games?
18 April 2012
For several years in the 60s, I lived in Kew Road and would visit the Gardens every Sunday, going through the turnstile for 1d.!! Even found a plant named after me - Ericacea Aurora! One of my most favourite places in all the world. I hope the Olympics allow many, many visitors to enjoy what I did all those years ago.
18 April 2012
Although at ground level the rings do not look as spectacular, they are still a wonderful sight. Many congratulations to all involved in planning and execution.

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