Archive for 20/05/2014


Municipal Dreams

There are plenty of things that make the Churchill Gardens Estate in Westminster a bit special.  In 2000 the Civic Trust voted it the outstanding building scheme of the last forty years. When it was built it was the largest urban area to be built to the plans of a single firm of architects. But let’s begin with its founding inspiration.

'Luxury flats, Pimlico'.  The caption and image are taken from a Picture Post article of 1955 ‘Luxury flats, Pimlico’. The caption and image are taken from a Picture Post article of 1955

Churchill Gardens – the Pimlico Housing Scheme as it was originally designated – was the only major project within the visionary Abercrombie Plan for the post-war reconstruction of London to be completed.   Its scale – a 30 acre site, 1661 homes, 36 blocks, a population of some 5000 – and its design gives some indication of the ambition of post-war hopes.

Aerial view, 1960s Aerial view, 1960s

Charles Latham, then leader of the London County Council…

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The glorious Passion Flower

The glorious Passion Flower

Today’s question concern climbers that won’t flower, specifically Passion flowers and Wisteria. Jimmy Jones of Brighton asks:

‘I’ve a problem with two of my climbers. I have a Passion Flower growing over my front door which grows very vigourously, but produces no flowers or fruit. Likewise I bought a Wisteria a good few years ago and it did not grow for a long time. I fed it and recently it has begun to grow, but still has not flowered. Can you help please?’

The Passion Flower (Passiflora) needs one thing above all else- sunshine. So a south facing wall is really the only place where it will succeed in most parts of the U.K.- it must be open to the sun all day. If your location is right the other issue might be an over rich soil- this can produce a mass of foliage and stems at the expense of flowers, so if you’ve been feeding it perhaps lay off for a while and then make sure you use a feed rich in potassium (e.g.dilute tomato feed), which will encourage flowering.

As for the Wisteria, this is one of those plants that takes a fair while to come into flower. to make the wait even more agonising, it often grows very little in its first year or two. Help to induce flowering by shortening any unwanted long stems in July or August, cutting them back to about 30 cms or to 5 or 6 buds, and prune again in January, shortening all side shoots back to two or three buds, so concentrating the plant’s energy into a limited number of flowering buds. Again, an occasional feed with diluted tomato feed (or another feed rich in potassium) can also coax flowers from reluctant plants.

My own experience from transplanting a Wisteria seedling to my arbour in my Kitchen Garden, is that it’s taken a good five years for it to flower in any profusion, but I think the mild winter and warmish spring have also played a part- below are some pictures of how it looks today. I’m gradually training it over the top and sides of the arbour. You might also find  this article about using climbers in the garden useful.

Coincidentally my younger daughter (who lives in a basement apartment in the outskirts of Lisbon,Portugal), has just bought a Wisteria to go alongside a very successful Trachelospermum jasminoides she and her husband planted about 3 years ago (I’m told the fragrance just now is wonderful). I’ve suggested they train it along wires fixed to the walls of their patio garden and as it’s in a container to give it a fortnightly feed of tomato food to encourage flowering. Fingers crossed!

If you have any questions you’d liked answered then email me and I’ll do my best to feature your question and hopefully provide an answer!

My email address: nbold@btinternet.com, and put ‘GQT question’ in the subject line, please.

Old School Gardener

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