February 7, 2014

Sochi and Plants

I have little doubt that the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics will dazzle and impress, but outside of the stadium, I wonder how the organizers prioritized construction and showmanship, with less important concerns, such as how the Olympic experience is enhanced with plants, nature and flowers? Let's check it out.

As the Winter Olympics open tonight in Sochi, Russia, I can't help but think about what it must be like to attend both the opening ceremonies and some events - a life long bucket list item of mine, which I am afraid, I will not experience. Still, I will celebrate tonight by watching it on TV, while eating appropriate Russian food ( Beet soup) and of, since I have to, Vodka. So much drama exists around this years; Olympics, that I am certain the flower and gardens in and around the Olympic Park will be the last thing anyone is worrying about, so, I will explore it a little.

By now, we've all seen the images of tainted water, Chobani, Gay Athletes, unfinished construction projects and heard about potential threats from terrorists, toothpaste and Pussy Riot, but I can't help myself in searching for some garden/plant related facts from these Olympics. I had such high hopes for Russia four years ago, when they announced the next event at the Vancouver Games, and I wish the organizers, visitors and the athletes all the best, naturally, hopeing that all goes well.

A last minute planting Trees last week near a Sochi highway.

As for what the official Olympic victory bouquet might be, I tried to find some information or even leaks online on what the official Olympic Victory Bouquet's might look like, but it seems that the Russian officials are keeping that a secret too. As for the floral bouquets presented to athletes, officials seem to be keeping what these will contain under lock and key ( but I can imagine a hand-tied inspired bouquet with potatoes, beets and pussy willows (get it?).

My search did lead me to some Russian media sites for the city of Sochi, Sochi magazine, and some Russian sites for the Olympics which provided some entertainment. Here is what I discovered.

From the official City of Sochi website ( full of propaganda) this shows a container  or 'Mobile Flowering Tree" being planted in December, in prep for the Winter Olympics. Nice.

 According to an “official” municipal website for the city of Sochi, the city has been adorned with 'winter gardens', planted with primroses, hyacinths violas and cyclamen.”  After confirming this hopeful goal with Western media sources, it was sort-of confirmed…. ( below, from today's post on the Wall Street Journal's blog.

Artificial Flowers 'Bloom' in the ski city of Adler, where many Olympic athletes are staying.  from Rachel Bachman's post from the WSJ.

Not surprising, as the city is rather warm in comparison to the events at higher elevations, and I can imagine that much of the city is beautiful, so says Elina Baranskaya, who has the title of Chief Artist for the city of Sochi.  She says “While preparing the resort, we found common ground between the Olympic Mountain and Coastal clusters. No Russian city has flowers blooming in February. But Sochi does!” .

This image from CTV News by Joy Malbon, shows viola's being planted outside the Adler Arena last week.

According to the official Sochi Russian Olympic Web Site Press release:

Two million of fresh flowers will appear in Sochi before the Olympics!

Today, teams of gardeners continue to beautify flowerbeds and plant flowers. International hospitality zones are decorated with hyacinths, primroses, cyclamens and violas. In the last stage of work, landscapers will plant nearly half a million flowers. The resort will have 28 new flowerbeds. Tulips will also be planted there. Blooming tulips will be planted a few days before the Olympics. This will be done at the last moment, to ensure that the flowers will not die from possible frosts, which are not rare at this time of the year on the coast, reports Sochi News.

The Washington Post shared this image of primula and Viola being planted in equally lovely combinations and in poison-green window boxes in Sochi.

The Sochi site makes an attempt to explain these green planting structures: 

They are placed in different places around the beautiful city of Sochi. Along the roads and in the parks. 
Today mobile trees were installed near the Sochi seaport which have been planted with beautiful

Cyclamen, juniper, brier, and violets. Violas have been planted today in flowerbeds. In total, about 400 similar structures of different types will be installed in the city. These are vases in the form of bridges, firs, columns and decorative flower bunches. 

“Such forms are exhibited across the Central District in the guest area, there are several, they are approved by the artists and architects. During the holidays and after the Olympics, we will take care of them. These will once again accent our city as a charming resort town, which meets all the requirements of international standards of hospitality,” said Sergey Pavlenko, head of the Central District Administration of Sochi.

I would not mind, however, visiting Sochi and the near by Caucasus Mountains at snowmelt  to view the many rare alpine plants and alpine bulbs that grow in the subalpine meadows. 

Tagil Roses painted on trays will be presented to guests.

Tagil trays have been known since 1747. They received recognition for lacquer painting on metal. Since the mid-XIX century, steel trays were forged from a single sheet with perforated handles. It was painted with fruit, vegetable and floral patterns, and especially with a fabulous flower – the “Tagil Rose” on the background imitating malachite or wood. Tagil roses are also know as “one stroke” painted roses.

Olympic mascots are depicted on the cut of a pine nut by a skilled craftsman from Novosibirsk

Bashkir Honey Gatherers, from TheHoneyGatherers.com

Guests of Sochi Olympics will be treated to Bashkir honey, considered a delicacy around the world, and the worlds most elite honey.
According to a Kiev news site: The Bashkir Research Centre for Beekeeping and Apitherapy has worked with the Krasnodar Krai Administration on a presentation of Bashkir honey at the fair, which will open at the Barkhatnyye Sezony Complex in the Imeretinskaya lowland on February 1. Five tons of honey will be delivered to the resort. Besides honey, other products will also be presented – pollen, beebread and propolis, and medical and cosmetic items using bee products, reports FederalPress.

As for PO3A XYTOP?  check this out if you had not seen it.

1 comment :

  1. I went to a conference last month and the capstone speaker was James Hitchmough, who played a large hand in the look of the beds at the London Olympics. He helped devise a system of seeding large areas with perennials (and a few annuals) most of which were either planted with North American prairie natives or plants from South Africa. It was a fascinating talk, and I have a feeling the London landscape is going to last longer than Sochi's.


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