City plants due to bloom for Olympics

Square Mile shows off its new open spaces to politicians as schemes are completed in time to provide Games showcase.

London's Square Mile will become a horticultural hotbed in time for the Olympics later this month thanks to the creation of a new park, tree avenue and themed bedding.

Politicians heaped praise on City of London chiefs last week after a guided tour that took in the recent overhaul of a coach park in front of St Paul's Cathedral. The landscape, completed in April, was renamed the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Garden.

Supervisor of parks and gardens Martin Rodman said the 0.5ha space, with mature trees, lawns, drought-tolerant plants and sculptures, was timed to be flourishing by the Olympics. Events such as the marathon will pass through the City.

Politicians on the tour included All-Party Parliamentary Gardening & Horticulture Group chair Baroness Fookes, former Paralympian Lady Masham of Ilton, Lord Clark of Windermere and Labour MP for Central Ayrshire Brian Donohoe.

City of London director of open spaces Sue Ireland also spearheaded the recent creation of a tree-lined avenue in Cheapside with Liquidambar trees on the north side and Alnus on the south.

"We have made a commitment to increase tree cover by five per cent in the next five years, which is hard given the constraints of vehicle compaction, building encroachment and roadworks," she said.

A small pocket park with elliptical lawn, paths and lush planting on Watling Street was designed by Elizabeth Banks and built by Willerby Landscapes in partnership with a bank that developed the land.

Finally, 10 raised flower beds are being planted around the City of London this week with flowers in the form of the Olympic 2012 shard logo. Bunting and flags will be strung from railings and planters.

"The aim of the tour was to show the impact of the Olympic Games at a time when work is continuing on Crossrail and choices are being made on urban planting because of climate change, pollution and problems such as the Massaria fungi on London plane trees," said Rodman.

City of London facts

Open spaces 4,300ha
Green spaces 200
Trees 2,000
Street trees 700
Population 10,000
Commuters 340,000
Garden staff 32


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