Idyllic British countryside sets the theme at opening of London Games

Trees, grass and other landscape elements will take centre stage for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, precise details of which are being kept secret until the worldwide broadcast of the event to an estimated one billion people at 9pm tonight (Friday).

Olympic park - image: Peter Neal
Olympic park - image: Peter Neal

A grassed plateau turfed by supplier County Turf with ramps and steps forms the main stage in the Olympic Stadium, leading to shrubs, fencing and buildings. In one corner is a grassy hillock topped with a mature tree.

The set, called Green and Pleasant, represents a traditional and idyllic view of the British countryside. Artistic director Danny Boyle has used 10,000 volunteers for the ceremony, which is being staged at a cost of £27m.

The field of play in the stadium has been transformed into a scene designed to mimic rolling British countryside, complete with meadows, fields and rivers.

It features families having picnics beside 12 horses, three cows and 10 chickens.

Each of the UK's nations will be represented by their official flower - the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the daffodil of Wales and the flax of Northern Ireland.

Boyle said at the launch: "The ceremony is an attempt to capture a picture of ourselves as a nation, where we have come from and where we want to be."

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