Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Which should be the Olympic plant?

The 2012 Olympic Games in London is going to see something that'll make every gardener smile. I read that they're going to be presenting the winners with potted plants instead of bouquets!
What an absolutely fantastic idea!
Imagine an Olympian being able to point out a potted chrysanthemum or geranium to visitors and say "yes, that's from the Games of 2012".
What a thrill to be able to touch, nurture and cherish a beautiful symbol of their victory and felicitation for years. Unlike a bouquet, no matter how exotic, which would last for just 1 month max.

It is fitting, isn't it, that this tribute to their talent and years of hard-work should remain fresh for years? Of course, they would have their medals but those are normally locked away behind glass or in cupboards. Not like a plant, preening itself on the windowsill or dining table. Or having pride of place at the entryway to the house.

Every great idea usually comes with its share of glitches. Athletes are often on the move, travelling all over the world while participating in various tournaments and other events. Who would care for the precious Olympic plant then?

The spokesperson who was interviewed said that they would be choosing a locally grown plant. But which plant?
Would it be a small one like a geranium, with a shorter life span but more compact and easier to fit into sometimes tiny homes?
Or a sapling of a tree, maybe oak, reaching higher, growing stronger in the true Olympic spirit?
Or a vine, ivy perhaps, climbing and rambling faster, ever faster?
Laurel? Maybe ... but the Bay laurel, which was the original victory wreath of the Grecians, may face competition from the English laurel in the land where the Games will be hosted in 2012.

And, what if the presented plant is just not suited to the climate of the athlete's homeland? Imagine presenting a cyclamen to an athlete from Mauritius. It would be cooked by the time it got off the plane!

Or what if, horror of horrors, the proudly gifted plant is a weed in the athlete's homeland? I can imagine at least one such plant - mimosa pudica - which is grown as a novelty plant in UK but which is slashed and burnt as a noxious weed in India.

When I read the news report, I immediately thought of roses (the thorns would be a problem though), chrysanthemums and geraniums as possibilities . These are the plants I usually associate with the UK but given that I've visited London only once in my life, I'm likely to be way off mark.

What do you think? Which should be the Olympic plant in your opinion? If you were the one deciding which plant would be presented to the winners, which one would you choose for the Gold medallists and the Silver or Bronze winners?

Incidentally, the photo at the top is of a Powderpuff Plant, or Calliandra.... looks like the Olympic Flame, doesnt it?


  1. Wow, it'd be great to see your Victory blooming back at you! What more can you ask for?
    I guess Mums would be a perfect choice as it'd grow almost everywhere.

  2. This is a good, good thought provoking post. A hard decision for sure! I think a rose would be simplest and have universal appeal. That is my vote.

  3. Ha! Chandramouli, that paints such a vivid picture ! Those words, "Victory blooming back at you" makes me think of someone smiling from ear to ear :D

  4. Tina, I guess that would give them the sweet smell of success alright, eh?
    Okay, so now we have 1 for Mums and 1 for Roses. Neck to neck, wouldnt you say?

  5. Hi Sunita another great post! Maybe the should give away a Dendrobium orchid they are very adaptable and where they can't grow it outside it could be a houseplant!

  6. I like the idea of some sort of tree. The world needs more trees. Not sure what the best selection would be though. Your suggestion of a Bay or English laurel is a good one I think.

    A bit off topic, but I just heard about the violence in Mumbai. I hope you, your family, and friends are safe and unharmed. I am so sorry to hear that such things are happening in your area.


  7. Off topic here too : I suppose by now most of the world has heard / read about the horrific things in Mumbai.
    I'm safe and so is my family but my heart goes out to all those who are not. All the innocent people caught up in the crazed mayhem caused by deranged minds.
    Then, there all those brave people working hard to rescue the victims. All the policemen, commandos and others who have selflessly put themselves in the path of danger and have died while doing their duty.
    I salute you.

  8. Eric, thats a great idea!
    Hmm... if I start training them right now, maybe by 2012 my kids could be Olympic material. Hey, anything for an orchid ;)

  9. Carol, thanks so much for your concern. Yes, we're all safe from the horror that is taking place in Mumbai. For now, at least.
    Trees, yes. I wish we could see more trees, especially in Mumbai. And I wish we had more sportsmen and women in Mumbai.

  10. I had not heard of the violence, I am glad you and your family are safe and hope things get better. Sorry for the loss of life. So tragic.

  11. That surely is a innovative idea, however I agree that while implementing the idea might not be that much of a problem. How many atheletes will take care of the potted plants is anybody's guess.

    By the way, that image of the Powderpuff plant is just awesome...Thomas

  12. Yep, Indians would not enjoy a mimosa pudica for sure!

    Please to know that you amd your family are okay.

  13. Sunita, I'm here to check on you and yours. Happy to hear you and your family are safe. What horrors of man's inhumanity to man; there seems to be no end to it. I feel sure there will be many prayers focused that direction today as people in the U.S.A. sit down to say thanks around their thanksgiving dinner tables.

  14. I'm still a bit dazed and shocked by all the horror of the last 2 days. I really appreciate your concern, Tina
    Thomas, thanks. When I took that photo, I was a bit surprised by those tiny points of light at the tips. It is just not visible normally and it took the macro setting to show it off.
    Amila, I was sure you would understand about the mimosa pudica :D
    Thank you, Barbee. Yes, we're safe but still tense. There has been so much senseless violence and I just can't comprehend how someone could do this in the name of religion. Or otherwise.
    A lot of foreign tourists, especially from USA and UK, were targetted by the terrorists. I pray for those still held hostage and for the families of everyone victimised.

  15. I like the idea of a live plant, but it might not be practical with customs restrictions between countries (I know....practical thoughts are boring...sorry :).
    Your Powderpuff Plant is gorgeous!

  16. You're right, Kerri. So the organisers would have to make sure they give plants which are certified as exportable or bug-proof or whatever it is that they have to do. It would be terrible for an athlete to find that the plant is not-allowed into their country and have to see their precious symbol of triumph being tossed into the dust-bin!


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