By Jenni Davidson
Conservation work has begun on one of the longest green walls in the country on Brighton seafront.
Over 90 different species of plant grow on the Madeira Drive retaining wall on the north side of Duke’s Mound.
The work aims to protect the huge variety of coastal plants and repair the concrete wall underneath.
Brighton’s green wall is one of the oldest and longest in Britain at up to 20 metres high, 1.2 kilometres long and nearly 200 years old.
Last year Brighton and Hove City Council designated the green wall a local wildlife site to ensure its continued protection.
It is the only site of its kind in the UK.
The wall is home to a diverse range of plants, from cow parsley and foxglove, usually found near woodland, to a fig tree and a number of shade tolerant ferns.
It also contains the nationally scarce hoary stock, a fragrant coastal plant with striking white to purple flowers most commonly found on the south coast.
Japanese spindle was deliberately planted on the upper promenade in the early 19th century when the wall was built as a means to improve the appearance of the seafront.
These plants are amongst the oldest surviving plants of this species, which originated from Japan, Korea and China, in the UK.
Councillor Ian Davey, deputy leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “The variety of plants growing on the Madeira Drive retaining wall makes it one of the most important ‘green walls’ in the country.
“The plants and the wall are part of the seafront environment that we want to protect, providing a haven for wildlife and a source of enduring interest for people.”
Work is being carried out now on a 400 metre stretch to avoid the bird nesting season.
In the autumn repair work will be carried out to the concrete wall itself to maintain the structure and provide an ongoing habitat for plants and wildlife.