31 January 2019, The Tablet

Glimpses of Eden

Glimpses of Eden

Just six years ago this was one of Britain’s oldest jails. Now it’s a building site; soon it will be a retail and leisure complex with restaurants, shops and cinema. I was looking at some rubble by the old Northallerton prison, when I found a pile of discarded roof tiles. The tiles, which had once roofed the felons, were covered in Biting Stonecrop, sedum acre, a low-growing, mat-forming plant.

Biting Stonecrop is one of the world’s most resilient organisms. Able to grow in just a few crumbs of soil, and survive without rain for six months, it thrives in sand dunes, pavements, walls – and prison roofs.

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