2012 Olympic flowers—oh so British, and yet …


If you’ve been watching, you probably noticed the Olympic bouquets. At first glance they look rather traditional, though pretty—a tight, colorful bunch of roses.

But as is usual with these, there is a story behind the flower choice and where the flowers come from. They include four kinds of roses (which could not be sourced from the UK)): Aqua (pink HT), Ilios (greenish yellow HT), Marie Clair (orange HT), and Wimbleton (green HT).  I am assuming these are hybrid teas, as those are usually chosen for the cut flower trade, and they look it—there was little information to be found, probably because they had to be shipped in. None of them are the type I’d ever be likely to grow; they seem made for the florist industry, with everything that implies: scentless, long stems, relatively thorn-free. The roses are augmented with wheat, apple mint, lavender, and rosemary (all locally grown), so even though the roses aren’t contributing, these are strongly scented bouquets. The herbs were chosen so “there’s a really British scent to them,” according to florist Hannah Emery, who is overseeing the production of 4400 bouquets, with the help of students from Writtle College in Essex, Bexley Adult Education in Kent, and Kingston Maurward in Dorset..

I like the inclusion of scented herbs and lavender to bump up the scent impact; I’m ambivalent about the high maintenance hybrid teas, which were unlikely to have been grown without chemical intervention. The colors are great though—they really pop. The short stems are meant to evoke a “nosegay” effect.

One sad thing and one strange thing: the designer of these “Victory Bouquets,” Jane Packer, of Jane Packer Floristry, died last year. And it’s been reported that many of the medal winners are hurling their flowers into the crowd. (Maybe they don’t have any vases in the Olympic Village.)

Finally, here a tweet from British singer Lily Allen: “The presentation flowers are a little petrol stationy no?”  I wouldn’t go that far, never having spotted wheat and lavender in a gas station bunch around here. I would suggest that future Olympiad flower designers avoid roses, particularly when they cannot be grown locally, as these were not. There are lots of other flowers.

P.S. Loving the actual games—been glued every night, and carefully avoiding spoilers during the day!

Previous articleI Never Water This
Next articleSend Me to the Commune
Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. At British weddings, the bride traditionally throws her bouquet into the crowd of wedding guests; the catcher is believed to be the next to be married. Maybe it is a varient of this idea that cause the medal winners to toss their posies into the crowd – or maybe not. I bet the catchers are thrilled to receive something of their hero’s/ heroine’s.
    It would be interesting to know when the presenting of flowers to medal winners started. Frankly, I think they all look a little silly with posies in their hands, so maybe that’s what they think too.

  2. I watch a lot of professional cycling events, mainly the 3 big European Grand Tours, and it is quite standard for the winners to hurl their bouquets into the crowd from the podium. These are normally huge — much bigger than these wee English posies — and are sometimes followed by a spraying of champagne, also into the crowd, by the winners. At least the Olypic medal presenters don’t have to cope with that.

    Also glued to the multiple cyber devices here on the West Coast. A local boy, Ashton Eaton, is leading the decathlon so I’ve been watching live coverage on my iPad, following Tweets by locals watching from the stands in London on my smartypants phone, and doing email and other regular stuff on my ‘puter. Feeling like a cyber triathlete — quite uncharacteristic for this normally dinosaurian gardener.

  3. Elizabeth, I have a hard time believing that those roses needed to be outsourced, when they’ve got both David Austin and Peter Beales Roses right there in country! That would make the Brits no better than us when it comes to outsourcing – although they DID let Trump build his damn golf resort there…….maybe they are as profit-greedy as we are!

  4. I really would like to know the significance and meaning of the giving of flowers to the medal winners ,especially the men. To me it looks a little silly to give the men a cute little bouquet of flowers. So there has to be a signicant reason to do this.

  5. I am curious about what happened to the flowers after the athletes left or when they faded. I rather hoped they’d be collected somewhere, composted and then fed back into the wonderful beds in the Park.

Comments are closed.