- We set up the UK’s first training course in green roofing, which ran successfully for many years in partnership with the Brighton Permaculture Trust, and continues in its new guise under the management of Human Nature and Green Roof Revival.
- We published a set of case studies to promote our city’s innovative green roofs and walls, and a website that receives over 1000 visitors a month from around the world.
- We have given a large number of talks to promote green roofs and walls in our city, and run tours of green buildings and Madeira Drive green wall.
- We published a free local history of Madeira Drive – a unique ‘miracle mile’ of Victorian invention.
- With partners, we published a major study of the green roof retrofit potential in Brighton.
- We took on the management of Madeira Drive green wall, working with Green Gym volunteers and providing approximately 200 hours of voluntary labour to improve the local environment.
- We successfully argued for Madeira Drive Green Wall’s designation as the UK’s first such local wildlife site, and promoted our work internationally.
- We are an active partner in the Council’s endeavours to restore and regenerate the East Brighton seafront.
Today volunteers with Building Green planted 45 Japanese Spindle plants to fill the gaps in the green wall at Madeira Drive, Brighton & Hove.
Originally established in 1872 this green wall is the oldest and longest of its kind in the UK. The plants were grown on from cuttings taken from the site and should one day reach as high as their 20m tall, 150 year old neighbours!
A big thank you to everyone involved.
Hope to see you at Madeira Drive – Duke’s Mound end – at 11 am today, to plant Japanese spindle cuttings and fill the gaps in the green wall!
Last night Building Green attended a meeting of around 40 people interested in the future of Madeira Terraces and the regeneration of East Brighton seafront.
The focus was on shaping an advisory panel, that will represent interest groups in the city and work with the Council to ensure the restoration of Madeira Terraces, and the vision for the area.
Building Green is particularly keen to represent the voice of the environment in this process – not only the famous ‘green wall’, but the wider environment it is connected to…the sea, the beach and its vegetated shingle habitat, and the garden squares in Kemptown above.
Below you can listen to a recording – thanks to the Save Madeira Terraces gang! – of Building Green founder James Farrell speaking about the importance of the environment as an integral part of the seafront.
The time has come to plant some new Japanese spindle at Madeira Drive green wall!
We need people to come and help on Sunday 12 May at 11am, Duke’s Mound (click for a map).
We will be planting these cuttings to fill in gaps in the green wall that runs up the hill from the eastern end of Madeira Terrace opposite Banjo groyne.
No special skills required,. Bring spades, forks and gloves if you can – if not just bring a smile! Feel free to contact us to let us know if you are coming.
This is part of achieving Building Green’s vision for a fully restored green wall, thriving in wildlife, and a major contribution to the beauty of the seafront. The oldest, longest green wall in the UK.
Many people ask me about the fig trees growing on Madeira Drive at the bottom of the green wall.
We all know about the leaves used to cover Adam and Eve’s modesty, but are figs really all about sex? Well, yes.
There are 2 trees at the bottom of Paston Place, one growing 10m tall. They are often cut back hard, but grow back quickly…tough and hardy plants even in our salty and windy climate.
Ours are male figs…so whilst they have fruit, it’s dry and inedible. In the wild, you need males and females to reproduce (like us), but also a little help from a tiny wasp (unlike us).
According to Jonathan Drori in his great book ‘Around the world in 80 trees’, in the native Turkey, the wasps (Blastophaga) are female, stingless and tiny. Wasps of both sexes hatch inside male figs and mate, the males burrowing out to die. Male figs produce pollen…which covers the female wasp as she leaves the burrow made by the male in search of figs to lay eggs in.
It’s a one way trip with a 50-50 success rate. Getting into a new fig strips off her wings so there’s no turning back. If it’s a male fig then she lays eggs which hatch to continue the cycle of life. If it’s a female fig, tough luck – it doesn’t fit her anatomy so she can’t lay eggs. She does however spread pollen around unwittingly as she goes, and when she dies her body contributes to the plant’s growth.
A couple more interesting facts. The smell of the ripe female figs is designed to attract bats and birds to spread the seeds. And the natural laxative effect of eating the figs ensures the seeds get a good dollop of fertiliser to help them along.
So if we can’t eat the fruit, what about the leaves? I once met someone who picked a fig leaf to munch on his way along Madeira Drive every day and swore by the health benefits. Well, turns out regular consumption may lower triglycerides which are implicated in obesity and heart disease. Just watch out for that laxative effect!
If only websites could be scratch and sniff…this one, anyway! The coconut perfume from this Spanish gorse at the Maderia Drive Green Wall is almost palpable!
Gorse is the national flower of Galicia, burns well, and has edible flowers.
How strongly you can detect the coconut scent varies from person to person.