Brighton & Hove cliffs are home to hoary stock – Matthiola incana – a nationally scarce plant that likes warm south facing coasts. I love the fact that another common name for the plant is ‘hopes‘.
Whilst there is some debate about its ancestry – is it native, but what does that mean anyway? – it is listed in the citation for the Brighton to Newhaven Cliffs Site of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England listed this SSSI in 2014 as ‘unfavourable recovering’ – it’s of variable quality no doubt but the section I explored as far as Roedean from the marina was very eutrophic (thanks, dog owners) and devoid of much particular diversity on first glance…except for the very cliff edge where I spied a few small patches closer to chalk grassland and even a few lone orchids.
Hoary stock on the cliffs above Brighton Marina – part of the Brighton to Newhaven Site of Special Scientific Interest
A run along there recently shows it in its purple and white forms – and even a combination variegated form I hadn’t seen before (just visible on the right hand side of this photo)!
It was good to see large hoary stock plants along parts of the Madeira Drive green wall as well – where it is one of 100 species that have been recorded in this historic green wall wildlife site.
Hoary stock at Madeira Drive green wall, Brighton
Richard Mabey, in his Flora Britannica, says hoary stock:
“…is possibly a rare native of the southern chalk cliffs, now probably confined to Sussex and Isle of Wight, and is the parent of the garden stocks. In the wild it has short sprays of large, deep violet flowers [or white, or a combination!] with a clove-like fragrance, which produce seed-pods often more than four inches long. It was developed into the strain of ‘Brompton stocks’ in the eighteenth century at the Brompton Road nursery in London”.
By the way, it especially smells of cloves at night – but be careful on the cliff tops if you’re going to take a sniff! Other names it is known by include:
Get ready to build your own green roof!
There are some spaces still available on our Green Roof DIY weekend – 13 & 14 May 2017.
Here’s what people have said about the course:
“I just wanted to write to thank you for the inspirational Green Roof course this weekend; I feel ready (and keen) to start my extension roof and confident that I can!”
“I know that a feedback form will be coming but I just wanted you to know just how much I appreciated all the effort that you put into the course which hit the right note on so many levels.”
Bookings can be made through the Brighton Permaculture Trust here. Lee from Organic Roofs and I look forward to seeing you there!
Local artist Vincenzo Donlini has created some atmospheric images of Madeira Drive. Featuring the terraces, the beach and the green wall, they are full of light, colour and texture. Visit his website.
These paintings were made on site in 2015 – not from photos – so tell of a time before ‘dereliction’. Postcards etc are available from the website.
Brighton & Hove Building Green have published a history of ‘Maddy’ – our beloved seafront road in East Brighton which is home to the oldest and longest green wall in the UK.
It’s a story of Victorian invention, bringing together technology, engineering, the environment and health and enjoyment.
Visit the Madeira Drive page to find out more.
Hello Sailor! Promenading the ‘famous Madeira Terrace on Madeira Drive
Madeira Terraces, home to the longest continuous ironwork structure in the UK and the longest and oldest green wall, are derelict.
‘People Power called upon to help save Madeira Terraces.‘
Brighton Council has launched a historic crowdfunding appeal to restore them, and regenerate this neglected part of the seafront as part of the ‘Lockwood Project’.
Leader Warren Morgan said:
“We will harness the city’s energy, creativity and affection for the Terraces to get the project off the ground. At the same time we will leave no stone unturned, seeking every possible avenue of funding from government and other sources.
“We want to inspire private and corporate investors to join us in saving a nationally-important structure on one of the world’s most recognisable seafronts by the much loved pebble beach. I’m not giving up on this. We’re determined to find a way of funding the restoration of the Terraces“.
Building Green will continue to push for the retention and enhancement of the Victorian ‘green wall’ – with 100 species of flowering plant it is a candidate local wildlife site, part of our historic seafront, and beautiful backdrop to the beach.
Find out more about the history of Madeira Drive on our new page here.
Don’t forget, our own James Farrell and Lee Evans will be at Green Architecture Day tomorrow.
Come down and say hello! – we are speaking at 1040.
For info, tickets etc visit here.
Tempest Inn, Brighton seafront
A neat edge – vegetation management at Madeira Drive green wall
Organic Roofs and Building Green presenting the Big Nature drawing competition prize to Tamsin
Whitehawk home – carefully grown and tended ivy as a home for wildlife and attractive front garden. Brighton
Container green roof at Organic Roofs HQ, Shoreham