We Thought They Were Lost and Now They’re Found – rare wildflowers in East London

Two years ago we found a wonderful little meadow on the banks of the Thames at the entrance to the Royal Dock, squeezed between the Thames Walk and the river. If you looked across at just the right spot it was possible to believe nothing had changed for hundreds of years. Until, that is, the planes came roaring in just above your head bound for City airport.

Pinks 2
Above: the special spot on the Thames; below left: the pinks

This little charming spot had a wealth of wild flowers; vetches, sweet peas, briars, wild roses and most wonderful of all, standing stiffly above the tall grasses, a swathe of Carthusian Pinks, their brilliant clusters of crimson flowers waving in the breeze. We investigated them online and found, to our amazement, that they do not grow in the wild in England. We tried contacting several organisations but received no interest and so decided late last year to bring the site to the attention of our own council.

The pinks

But on a final visit we were horrified to find that the site had been cleared and covered in gravel and no sign of the flowers remained. This year, in early summer, and quite by chance, we took a friend along the footpath  and to our delight and astonishment not only were some wild flowers pushing up through the pebbles but a strip of bank still had a scattering of pinks flourishing in the sunshine!

Councillor Peppiatt has now intervened on our behalf to see what Council officers think can be done to protect this unique site for the future.

You can see the pinks for yourself by parking at the marina, crossing the dock and walking out onto the ‘beach’. Hopefully, they are still there.

By Greatfield Residents Association member John



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