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.

Boom! Funding secure for Madeira Terraces campaign

So it’s done – thanks to local campaigners, members of the public, local businesses and some particularly big donors, the Save Madeira Drive campaign reached its target today.

Total reached = £466,149

More soon – great news for now.

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 Brighton High Line?

So why not a Brighton High Line at Madeira Drive?

Flying high above New York City’s Meatpacking district is the High Line. You’ll have heard of it – it’s in the top 5 most Instagrammed sites in the world, receives over 7 million visitors a year. The cost was $273m. The additional tax revenues alone are estimated at $900m, with some $2bn additional local economic activity.

According to GreenPlay LLC, “The High Line district (including the Chelsea neighborhood), long back-on-its-heels, is now one of the hottest markets for upscale residential, retail, and office-center development.

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A recent visit by Building Green left us even more impressed than we expected to be. Run entirely by a Trust and a volunteer workforce, the place was packed with happy, strolling visitors. Gardeners moved through the planting, leaving wafts of mint and other fragrances in the wake of their secateurs. There were shops and stalls – all profits back to the Trust – as well as public art, recliners and all around the activity of cranes and new development in progress. As the sign on a new apartment block put it “Think the High Line is Cool? Check out our Roof Deck and no fee rentals“.

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Now to Brighton. We already have a high line – it’s Madeira Terraces, created by the Victorians for similar motives to the modern New Yorkers. Work is underway to source funding for their repair and restoration, and we have the marvellous backdrop of the Madeira Drive Green Wall for visitors to enjoy again in future as they walk the regenerated seafront.

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But what if the terrace deck itself was greened? Planted with attractive, fragrant and salt tolerant plants that were a reason for walking the terrace itself? The terrace as a destination, not just a roof for new businesses or a viewing platform for occasional events? It can be done technically. It has access including a mid-level lift at the Concorde. It may well provide an additional avenue for funding, and add value to the offer the restored terraces provide through increased footfall, marketability and environmental quality.

What do you think? Here at Building Green, we will be promoting this vision and encouraging the Council to adopt it. Can you help? Here’s a collage that provides some food for thought.

Building Green web