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« A weed a day keeps the Doctor away.... | Main | What is Thatch, how does it form and why is Thatch bad for my Lawn »

Growing 'weeds' at The Olympic Park

Grassclippings - Olympic Park's Floral MeadowsAlongside the house of Daily Mail Journalist Graham Harvey on Exmoor there’s a little field so steep that the locals used to call it ‘the Cliff’. For as long as anyone can remember, no one’s ever been suicidal enough to drive a tractor on it.

So unlike most of Britain’s grasslands it has never been sprayed with weed-killer or spread with chemical fertiliser. As a result, the ancient turf contains the sort of wild flowers you rarely see on Britain’s ruthlessly efficient farms.

Each summer it’s transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour. As well as a dozen grasses, there are wild clovers; purple vetch; violet self-heal; clumps of white stitchwort and bedstraw; yellow hawkbit and yellow and orange bird’s-foot trefoil (known in the South West as eggs-and-bacon), which improves soil quality by drawing nitrogen from the air and storing it in its roots.

While the agricultural experts might regard such pasture as ‘weeds’, our little flock of Exmoor Horn sheep seems to thrive on it. And in summer it’s a haven for grasshoppers, butterflies and bees.  But there is an irony at work here. For while flower-rich meadows may have disappeared from much of the countryside, they’re fast becoming a designer feature in city parks and gardens.

In the Olympic Park, 25 acres of wildflower meadows have been created to form a colourful setting for the sports arenas. The park is the largest new open space in the capital for 150 years, and Professor Nigel Dunnett, the chief horticultural consultant, says the aim is to showcase the best of British wildflowers.

A weed is after all a wild flower growing in the wrong place...

Read more on The Daily Mail



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