The sowing of over 20 million seeds in the moat of the Tower of London to create a “Superbloom” meadow has begun.
Cornflowers—with their blue bursts when in full bloom—have been specially chosen to hark back to a time when the historic fort’s trench was filled with water, while the other wildflowers will feature red poppies and yellow marigolds.
In favorable weather, the spectacular flower show, celebrating the Queen’s platinum anniversary, will bloom in early June to coincide with national celebrations of the frost’s milestone.
Nigel Dunnett, professor of plant design and urban horticulture at the University of Sheffield, has carefully chosen the combinations of wild seed and garden plants to enhance the color effect and extend the season into summer and beyond.
Professor Dunnet described the Superbloom as the most ‘exciting’ project he had been involved in.
He added: “It was a real combination of art and science to develop the final planting plan for the canal.
“Now that the seeds are in the ground, I can’t wait to watch their progress, from the first green shoots appearing within weeks to the full spectacle of the amazing ocean of flowers filling the moat in summer.”
Sunflowers, cosmos and rudbeckias bloom into early fall, and the snapdragon-like toadflax and baby’s breath bloom at the very beginning of summer.
Gardeners began to scatter the seeds by hand, and sowing is expected to take a week.
The horticultural experts have taken into account where the shadows of the tower fall when planning the location of certain seeds.
Extensive landscaping prepared the moat, with new winding paths lined with woven willow, and The Nest willow sculpture by artist Spencer Jenkins in the northeast corner, providing a vantage point for the display and Tower Bridge.
Some 10,000 tons of soil has been pushed into place on a huge conveyor belt and dumped into the trench.
Tom O’Leary, director of public engagement at Historic Royal Palaces, said the idea of collaboration had been in the pipeline for years.
“As the seeds go into the ground in the coming days, we are now working directly with nature – who we hope will give us a friendly look while we wait for the flowers to come to life in June,” he said.
As part of the experience, on a family-friendly slide on a mat, visitors can shoot into the canal from one of four lanes and follow the route through the display, which includes a specially commissioned sound system.
Plants have also been chosen to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
The moat was designed in the 13th century to defend the fortress and was used as a medieval orchard, pasture for Victorian cattle and allotment during World War II.
When the exhibition ends in September 2022, the new natural landscape created to support it will remain there as a permanent anniversary legacy.
Tickets for Superbloom are on sale at www.hrp.org.uk