Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) parklands and public realm project sponsor John Hopkins said all works were on budget and ahead of schedule, despite the recent £27m budget cut. "We're constantly making savings so (the cut) does have some impact but nothing that we do in saving money compromises what we're doing," he added.
British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) chair elect Paul Cowell said the games had already improved the image of landscape industries. "It's a great profile-raiser all round for the industry. The wonders that BALI contractors and suppliers are helping to create here are great for the industry in general."
Frosts Landscapes and White Horse Contractors are among the contractors working on the landscaping. Work underway on the 40ha parklands includes creating wetland bowls and wet woodlands designed to establish habitat, manage flood water and providing protection from storms.
Supplier Salix has grown 30 species of native reeds, rushes, grasses, sedges, wild flowers and irises. The Thetford-based firm grew a third of plants from cuttings and seeds collected in the Olympic park. They were grown on in water beds and coir mats.
Sport and Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, TV gardener Charlie Dimmock, former athlete Jonathan Edwards and ODA chairman John Armitt began the planting at a press event by staking down coir mats with biodegradable stakes.
Hillier marketing manager Caroline Swann oversaw the planting of the first 100 trees. She said the ash, cherry and hazel were the first of 2,400 coming from the Hampshire nursery. "It's tremendously exciting to see it taking shape," she added. "We're delighted with progress."
- See feature next week.
William Sinclair is among the suppliers of growing media to the Olympics. SincroBoostPlus is being used in the low-nutrient soils for the wild meadows due to its low phosphate levels.
LDA Design partner Neil Mattinson said: "The non-use of peat was paramount from day one and the challenge was one of scale."
The ODA's John Hopkins added: "The topsoil has been particularly difficult to manufacture, to get the pH balance right."
Roundstone, Nursery Fresh, Stockton-on-Tees Council, Darlington Council and Nottingham Trent University trialled SincroBoostPlus.