Wisteria blooms after horticulturists hold ‘night vigils’ with warming fires

Visitors to RHS Garden Wisley will be treated to a spectacular display of both purple and white Wisteria, which have bloomed together thanks to an unusual intervention by horticulturists.

Since it was first planted in 2018, the Wisteria Walk had only managed to produce the white-flowered “Kimono”, while the radiant purple “Kokurya” had been hindered each year because of frost.

But after a relatively mild spring, the garden’s horticulture team realised that by early April there were just a few frosty nights ahead before the bloom, and decided to hold “night vigils” with warming fires to try to save the flowers.

Conscious of being environmentally friendly, they gathered surplus wood from tree surgery around the garden, in Woking, Surrey, and laid out nine fire pits along the length of the Wisteria Walk.

As darkness descended, the fires were lit and the dedicated horticulturists stayed out for the next two nights, taking it in shifts to stoke the flames.

‘Tunnel of Wisteria’

Matthew Pottage, the curator of RHS Garden Wisley, said his team had “no idea if it was actually going to work”. But after inspecting the flower buds following the vigils, they appeared not to have been damaged by the frost or the flames and were continuing to grow.

“We created the feature because we wanted to have this tunnel of Wisteria. It is traditionally grown against walls which gives it protection from frost, which tends to kill the buds.

“The flower buds kept getting hit by the frost, and it has been quite upsetting the past few years not seeing it flower properly,” Mr Pottage told the Telegraph.

“I sent out an email to my team asking who was up for [the vigils]. People thought it was an April Fools’ joke, they were like: ‘Have you gone mad?!’

“But it worked. We wanted to show that the sense of wellbeing you get from flowers, especially scented flowers, is really incredible,” he added.

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