Preserving the walled garden wisteria
With your support, we’re delighted to announce we have successfully reached our wisteria appeal target of £20,000. Your donations will help the wisteria thrive for generations to come!
Background to the project
There are two stunning Wisteria sinensis specimens at Fulham Palace. One is growing against the Palace itself, up the south-facing wall, and the other grand example is trained along a 60m-long arc surrounding the knot garden within the walled garden. This remarkable and iconic specimen is thought to date back to at least the 19th century as it appears as an established plant in a photo dated 1901.
Wisteria is one of the most admired climbing plants in horticulture, with beautiful floral displays of long draping pea flower racemes of white, pink, blue, or mauve. Wisteria can be trained in a variety of ways but is popularly found growing up buildings, over pergolas, as clumps with upright stakes, or along low walls.
Images from the Fulham Palace archives show that the wisteria was originally supported by iron hoops. The hoops were intact and supported the wisteria for at least 30 years, with the last photo in 1929 showing them through the Tudor gate to the walled garden.
The original supports were replaced early 2000 with wooden posts and scaffold poles that were crude and unsympathetic to the grandeur and history of the plant. The wooden posts began rotting and cracking, with some of the poles were hanging out, and a few completely rotting at the base and collapsing, taking our historic wisteria down with them and crushing plants below.
In 2021, Fulham Palace Trust launched an appeal to raise £20,000 for the creation of new metal hoops, reflecting the original design.
As a result of the amazing generosity of the public, we met that target within three months. The new arches consist of double steel, ornate hoops to provide extra strength and were installed in February 2022.
Our Patrons and Friends deserve a special thank you for their invaluable generosity towards supporting our wisteria, which will now flourish for many years to come.
Further details on the process of creating and installing the new supports
This campaign was such an exciting opportunity because we had sound historic images to refer to and existing original features in the ground to measure from. The bases of the original hoops were still in the ground, so the new hoop design used the same dimensions as these.
The new frame support includes a double layer of hoops with supporting bars attached for extra strength. Some branches of the plant are 250mm in diameter and require a solid frame. There are also horizontal bars going across the hoops to allow the young whippy growth to be neatly tied in for future year blooms.
The hoops were dug in 300mm deep, keeping within the scheduled monument restrictions of the Palace site. The hoops were also base plated for increased durability, as without sufficient support the plant would slump down and spread out, losing its iconic shape.