Building Green volunteers successfully save trees for oldest, longest green wall

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Brighton & Hove Building Green volunteers ready for work…the Martlet’s ‘be more snail’ by the Green Wall just happens to have a garden and green wall theme!

In a successful partnership, volunteers from Brighton & Hove Building Green have worked with the council and contractors New Lawn and PH Beck to successfully save some Japanese Spindle plants.

The plants are about 40 years old, and were removed from their current location above the Concorde 2, coppiced, and re-planted along Madeira Drive Green Wall. There they will sit alongside their 140 year old neighbouring spindle plants, which were established by the Victorians around 1880. We hope they will grow well there, filling in gaps in the original planting scheme and helping towards the restoration of this unique vertical garden.

The work on the Concorde 2 was necessary to repair leaks in the roof. No-one realised how much concrete and rebar was used to create these planting beds – there are several of them along the length of the green wall to create habitat on the upper level.

The vision is to fill in the gaps in the green wall, which once stretched the whole length of Madeira Drive and is the oldest and longest in the UK.

Madeira Drives, old and new

Approximately 100 years separates these photos, showing Madeira Drive, the Volks railway, Kemp Town and the Madeira Drive green wall

 

Volunteers save plants for country’s oldest ‘green’ wall

Filming/photo opportunities at Madeira Terrace green wall: Sunday, 30 September, 11am or Wednesday, 3 October, between 12 noon and 2pm. Please let Julie Harris Julie.harris@brighton-hove.gov.uk  and James Farrell know if you are interested in coming along.

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Happy Green Gymers after a hard morning’s work at Madeira Drive green wall

Work will begin next week to carefully transplant a group of Japanese spindle which has been growing in containers above Concorde 2 on Madeira Terrace for more than 35 years.

When they heard plants needed to be moved to enable repairs to the building, local community organisation Building Green got in touch offering to save the plants.

Japanese Spindle has been happily growing along Madeira Drive since the Victorians established a ‘green wall’ in the late 19th Century. It’s the oldest and longest of its kind in the country, and was designed to enhance the famous ironwork of Madeira Terrace.

James Farrell, founder of Building Green, said “We are working with the council to rescue some old Japanese spindle plants that need to be removed as part of structural improvement to the Concorde 2. The plants are a special feature of the Madeira Drive green wall, a ‘vertical garden’ which was established by the Victorians to enhance the seafront and Madeira Terrace.

“The green wall now contains more than 100 species of flowering plants, and is the longest and oldest of its kind in the country. The plants will be safely moved to a new home along the green wall at Duke’s Mound.”

Building Green has trialled coppicing (safely cutting from the base where the plants will regrow) on sections of the green wall and this technique will be used to transplant the spindles.

Councillor Alan Robins, lead member for tourism, development and culture, said: “We really appreciate the conservation being done by all the partners on this unique green wall. Thanks to them, as part of the work we are doing to maintain Concorde 2, the spindles will find a new home and won’t be lost. At 20 metres high and 1.2km long, the green wall is quite a feature and hosts an incredible diversity of plants and wildlife which is perhaps surprising in this exposed location.”

Volunteers from Building Green have been working with the council, Portslade Green Gym and other partners for several years to manage and restore this unique and important natural heritage.

It is thought the spindles being moved date back to the 1980s when they were planted in concrete troughs on the upper level of Madeira Terrace to improve the environment for visitors. The majority of spindle along the green wall is more than 140 years old and grows from ground level up and behind the walkway of the Terrace. It has glossy leaves and produces pink and orange berries.

Green fingers needed!

We have some gaps to fill in Europe’s longest, oldest green wall…and we need your help!

I took some cuttings of Japanese spindle today and I hope they take so we can replant the gaps in the wall at Duke’s Mound.

If you can help Building Green by taking some cuttings and growing them on for us, please get in touch!

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We need to plant up gaps in the wall like this.

Save Madeira Terraces!

Those wonderful Green Gym volunteers were at it again this week, pruning and improving the famous Green Wall at Madeira Drive. Thank you Green Gym!

The green wall originally extended down to the Palace Pier, and Building Green would love to see it fully restored to its original condition.

That ain’t going to happen unless the Madeira Terrace restoration goes ahead – the green wall and the Victorian terraces are inter-related – so please donate to the ‘Save Madeira Terrace’ campaign.

Currently standing at £381k out of a required £422k…deadline 30 November!

Video here.

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The future of Maderia Drive – it’s in all our hands…and an important clue

Building Green attended an important first meeting about the future of Madeira Drive recently.

The Council hosted the meeting, and invitees included a number of community organisations like ours, local businesses, interested residents and others. There were some big names in the room, which bodes well for the level of interest in regenerating the neglected East Brighton seafront.

Building Green spoke about the value and importance of the Madeira Drive Green Wall, which contributes vital natural heritage alongside the built heritage of the seafront. We will be offering the expertise the support of our volunteers to ensure the green wall is protected and enhanced as part of any future development.

The meeting discussed the new crowdfunding appeal – to be launched soon – plans and suggestions for future development, and ‘meanwhile’ uses to bring much needed life, recreation and business activity to Madeira Drive.

On our way to the meeting, we stopped off at the Fishing Museum and found a woodcut that offers an important clue to the founding of the green wall. For some time, Building Green has been looking for evidence of when the wall was first planted (with Japanese Spindle). Our hunch was that it was earlier than 1880, though the only documentary evidence points to 1882 (JB Evison 1969 ‘Gardening by the sea’). Well, I know you’re holding your breath, so…the woodcut print was published in 1872 and seems to show evenly spaced shrubs planted along the footing of the cliff. How exciting!

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For a full history of our wonderful Madeira Drive, visit our unique page.