19 February 2014

Council starts work to preserve one of the longest green walls in Britain

Conservation work on one of the longest green walls in the country has begun this week on Brighton seafront to protect a huge variety of coastal plants and repair the concrete wall.

Over 90 different species are growing on the Madeira Drive retaining wall on the north side of Duke’s Mound to the east of Brighton seafront. Up to 20 metres high and 1.2 kilometres long on a wall nearly 200 years old, Brighton’s green wall is one of the oldest and longest in the country.

Brighton & Hove City Council is working with the guidance of Brighton and Hove Building Green and the Ecology Consultancy, pruning back foliage and enlarging the bed at the foot of the wall. This autumn the council will be carrying out repair work to the concrete wall itself to maintain the effectiveness of the wall and provide an ongoing habitat for plants and wildlife.

Last year the council designated the green wall a local wildlife site, ensuring its continued protection as the only site of its kind in the UK.

Councillor Ian Davey, deputy leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “The variety of plants growing on the Madeira Drive retaining wall makes it one of the most important ‘green walls’ in the country. The plants and the wall are part of the seafront environment that we want to protect, providing a haven for wildlife and a source of enduring interest for people.”

As well as an impressive display of Japanese spindle growing almost up to the upper promenade, the wall contains the nationally scarce hoary stock, a coastal plant most commonly found on the south coast, with its striking white to purple flowers in early summer and with exquisite fragrance.

There is an incredible diversity of plants, from cow parsley and foxglove, usually found alongside woodland, to a fig tree and a number of shade tolerant ferns.

The Japanese spindle was deliberately established in the early 19th century when the wall was built, as a means to improve the appearance of the seafront for visitors and local people. Originating from Japan, Korea and China, these hardy plants are amongst the oldest surviving plants of this species in the UK.

Work is being carried out now on a 400 metre stretch to avoid the bird nesting season.

More information

For more information about Brighton and Hove Building Green visit: http://building-green.org.uk/

For more information about the Ecology Consultancy visit: http://www.ecologyconsultancy.co.uk/