Settling into the Black Rock beds

The 1,000 young plants, grown by horticulturalists at Kew’s world famous Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst, are taking root in shingle beds at Black Rock as part of a unique coastal project.

The plants arrived in the city last month to enhance the new wildlife site being created as part of the Black Rock Rejuvenation Project.

Experts from Kew

Working with experts from Kew, members of the Black Rock Project Team provided cuttings from plants already growing on the beach, which were taken to Wakehurst.

The cuttings, including 'Crambe maritima' (sea kale), 'Glaucium flavum' (yellow-horned poppy) and 'Solanum dulcamara' (bittersweet) were potted and nurtured by horticulturalists at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, who also grew further plants from seed.

Unique 'wave' beds

The plants have now been re-planted in a series of ‘wave’ design beds in the vegetated shingle at Black Rock. The unique design protects the young plans from harsh coastal conditions.

The new wildlife area can be fully appreciated by visitors using the new boardwalk which is due to be completed next month.


Chris Cockel, Kew’s UK Native Seed Hub Coordinator, said: “When we collected the root cuttings, they didn’t look much but they’ve actually produced some of the best plants. Once they got going there was not stopping them!”

It is hoped that the new wildlife site will become home to butterflies, bees, birds and other small insects to help to enrich the biodiversity of this unique coastal habitat.

New ecosystem

Councillor Tom Druitt, chair of the Black Rock Member Task and Finish Group, said: “It’s exciting to see how the new planting on the beach is taking shape and very soon everyone will be able to see it for themselves while enjoying a walk along the new boardwalk.

“We are proud to have worked with the experts at Kew to create this new habitat on the beach which will become home to new plants and insects and help create a new ecosystem on our seafront.”

Regeneration plans

The Black Rock Rejuvenation project is part of a large-scale regeneration effort to transform this part of the coastline and enable further development in the future.

Other plans for the project include restoring the Temple and Grade-II Listed Old Reading Room and an expanded sea wall.

There’ll also be a seafront classroom for children and young people to take advantage of when visiting the area as well as creating new seating and lighting.

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