A winning combination: the Olympic victory bouquets 2012
As a keen gardener without much interest in sport, one of my favourite parts of every Olympic Games is looking at the victory bouquets presented to medal winners, and finding out why that combination of flowers and other plants was chosen.
I absolutely loved London 2012’s offering: the vibrant colours, the symbolism, the mixture of traditional and modern.
I was really pleased to learn that the Olympic roses were grown in the UK, without any artificial heat and avoiding the use of chemical sprays unless absolutely necessary. The use of fertiliser and peat was also minimised.
In harmony with the sustainability commitments and aspirations of the Games as a whole, they were transported from the farms where they were grown to the Olympic sites without using artificial cooling devices.
The rose is of course the emblem of England. Some of the other plants chosen – rosemary, wheat and apple mint – represent flavours typical of English food.
Lavender is also used as a food ingredient, albeit a more specialised one, and has been used throughout Britain for medicinal purposes, for scenting linen, as a perfume and even for polishing furniture, for many centuries.
Mingling together with the roses, these elements create a delicious but eclectic smell, much like the friendly, exuberant chaos evoked by the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.
A rainbow of roses
The rose varieties used were selected by expert florist Jane Packer to match those in the Olympic logo. They are:
- ‘Ilios’ yellow – my personal favourite, for its bright, sunny colour.
- ‘Aqua’ pink – a lovely deep shade, neither insipid nor glaring.
- ‘Marie-Claire’ orange – apparently the most popular colour
- ‘Wimbledon’ green – a really unusual bloom with an appropriately sporty name!
They all have long-lasting blossoms that continue to look good for the longest period possible, however, they needed to be grown with extra care as they are a little less hardy than most other popular species.
Grab a bit of the Games
Excitingly, the very rose bushes that were used to grow the 20,000 flowers for the Olympic bouquet are now on sale to the public through a website called You Garden. Whether you want to recreate the Olympic victory bouquets for your own home, use them in your own creations or simply enjoy them in your garden, this is a unique opportunity to take home a living part of London 2012, which will continue giving joy for many years.