Garden News



West London suffered some of the worst rains in 40 years on July 12 with water forcing its way into many of the basement flats on Sutherland Avenue & Warrington Crescent. Much of Formosa Garden was also flooded and a team of volunteers quickly sprang into action creating makeshift sandbags out of the  gravel from the paths and grabbing buckets to assist in bail-out operations.

The water had drained away by the following morning thanks to the new pump and drainage system installed by the Committee. But drainage experts who visited the site confirmed that no pump would have been able to actually prevent the flooding, given the size of the garden and the volume of water that fell in such a short space of time.

Photos by Cheryl Prax








...Who would have thought we would have started 2021 in an even worse position than we found ourselves in at the start of the pandemic last March, with new variants of the virus running rampan







The third stage of Boris’s road-map out of lockdown has now come into effect with the re-opening of non-essential shops & amenities such as gyms, hair- dressers & beer gardens. It’s been a torrid couple of months since the latest lockdown began just after Christmas, as the rather witty posters outside our local Everyman bear witness (here’s Gwyneth having trouble with her “tiers”):

But as we appear to remain on course to cast off all social restrictions by June 21st it seems like a good time to re-visit some of the rules that aim to ensure all those using the garden co-exist in a spirit of harmony & co-operation.






Please observe the rule of six by which no more than six people or two households are allowed to meet in any outside setting. Social distancing remains in force which means that individuals should stay at least two metres apart or where that is not possible one metre apart with the added precaution of a face covering.

To help enforce this rule in the Garden we have asked walkers & joggers using the pathways to go in a clockwise direction to reduce the possibility of contact. Joggers approaching walkers should overtake them by using the garden turf to ensure a two-metre wide gap. All children under the age of six must be accompanied by at least one parent to ensure the distancing rule is observed.




These are listed on the Formosa Amenity website ( and are due to be reviewed by the Board at our next meeting in early May. But meanwhile here are a few of the ones most widely invoked:

  • Ball games only permitted for the under-10s if it doesn’t disturb others

  • Children must not be left unsupervised in the garden



  • Barbecues are not permitted

  • Toys, bicycles etc must not be left in the garden overnight

  • Parties involving more than 10 people must have prior permission

  • Dogs must be registered with WBM

  • Dogs can be exercised off the lead from daybreak to 10 am.

Please can dog-owners note in particular the requirement to register their pets. There has been a huge increase in dog ownership during lockdown with which our website doesn’t seem entirely to have kept pace – every dog on the Garden should be featured on it!




Enforcing the rules isn’t always easy & sad to say there have been a couple of confrontations over recent weeks when breaches have been pointed out, with tempers often understandably frayed in these difficult times. But please bear in mind that all of us on the Formosa Board are volunteers who have taken on this role because we want to give something back to the community. We have no vested interest in making life difficult for others who live on the Garden - -quite the reverse -- & that being the case we hope we can rely on people’s respect & co-operation.




A lot has happened in the garden since the last Newsletter. The six plane trees earmarked for removal under the Garden Master Plan were duly felled by our

crack team of tree surgeons: They were also able to identify & fix a fault with the lights on the

central plane tree which means they should be good for at least another Christmas!

The perimeter path has finally been given another layer of gravel, the Castellain Road gate has been smartened up & new drainage

works installed to deal with flooding at the Formosa & Warrington end.


We have been pleased to welcome a new member to the Board, Marc Scrimshire, who lives with his young family on Sutherland Avenue.




And last but not least....


...the London Air Ambulance London Air Ambulance once again dropped in to bring urgent medical help to a nearby emergency – in driving sleet that was in marked contrast to the balmy temperatures when first they touched down in July last year.





It is with regret that we have to report the death in January of Robert Player, whose firm Garden Associates was until last Summer in charge of the Garden.


This appreciation has been kindly penned by Formosa resident Ross Pye:

Robert had been in ill health for some time and suffered a relapse after Christmas. For the past 35 years he was a major force in Little Venice, caring not only for Formosa but also Triangle, Crescent and Winston Gardens.

Before the Church Commissioners sold their estate in the early 1980s these were more like formal parks, with perimeter gravel paths, pollarded planes and occasional

rather boring evergreen shrubberies looked after by maintenance firms rather than true gardeners. But Robert and his colleagues, urged on by the new breed of enthusiastic owner-occupiers, transformed them into the wonderful welcoming spaces they are today.





Winter and summer he was to be seen in his trademark shorts, an impressive amiable friend to all, ever ready to advise on gardening matters. Highly rated by his peers, he regularly won many prizes for the gardens in his care in the annual London Garden Squares Open Days. He will be sadly missed, but his vision will live on and grow ever more lovely.






This year’s AGM will take place on June 29 – possibly in an actual location that people can attend, since all constraints on social contact are supposed to be lifted on June 21 if Boris’s road map out of lockdown stays on track.

Even so the restrictions currently in place make planning our usual events calendar a bit trickier than usual. At the moment it is unlikely that we will hold a massive summer party for obvious reasons but we are busy planning alternatives which we hope everyone will feel comfortable with. Details will be put on the Formosa Amenity website & in the next Newsletter when they

become available.


One near-certainty though is that Fireworks Night will go ahead on November 6 since we managed a scaled-down event last year even in the throes of lockdown.

There’s also been a suggestion that we might think in terms of setting up some informal groups

covering interests such as chess, bridge, backgammon, language conversation, even a Book Club – anything you like really providing it’s legal! Anyone who is interested &/or/ would like to volunteer to set one up can contact me on

t? But happily the garden is still there as a thing of beauty, even if sometimes hard to discern through the late- afternoon gloom and the all-too-frequent rain, & work goes on to keep it looking good & to plan for the future once this unspeakable virus is on the way out.





In line with our Garden Master Plan (details on the Formosa website) six trees are being removed this year & the epicormic shoots cut back on the remainder (which I now know to be growths that emerge from dormant buds along a tree’s trunk & branches). Four of the trees are on the Warrington Crescent side & the others on the Sutherland Ave side and these are the last ones scheduled for removal under the Plan. The work is due to be carried out on Feb 1—5 & 8—9 and some of the chippings from the cut trees will subsequently be laid down on the flowerbeds.


The path was due to be re-surfaced last summer but for various reasons this did not happen. However it is now a matter of urgency as so much of the gravel has been worn away and very heavy rains on the night of January 13 caused widespread flooding, with water coming level to some of the patio gardens in Warrington Crescent & much of the path made impassable. The plan is to do the works after the tree felling to avoid the path becoming covered in debris. In anticipation of this could any items left on the path be removed -- & also children’s toys from anywhere else in the garden please!

Meanwhile in view of the still damp & muddy state of much of the path & lawns could residents perhaps be a bit more sparing in their use of them over the next couple of weeks until they’ve had the chance to dry out a bit more?



...the Christmas tree lights, that is. They brought a welcome touch of cheer when they were first switched on at the end of November & they were due to come on for six hours a day until the end of January. But alas after a couple of weeks a fuse went and kept on tripping every time it rained heavily - -which it has been doing quite a lot lately! The tree guys

will take a look to see if they can discover where the loose connection is – no easy task given that there are 22 metres of lights in all! It could be that over time with the growing of the branches the wire has become stretched, but any re-stringing operation would be extremely expensive & we are hoping some kind of repair might be possible.



Work is currently in progress to re-furbish the garden gate at the Castellain Road end which has received little attention for several years & as a result is badly in need of a couple of new coats of paint & some improved signage. Unfortunately as some of you may have seen the workmen’s first effort appeared more suited to a top-secret nuclear facility than to a communal garden:

Hopefully the end result will be much more subtle, with some fresh paintwork & more restrained use of signs.



At the time of writing it is impossible to know how long current restrictions are likely to continue, but in a spirit of optimism we’ve started thinking about a programme of events for 2021. We’ve already been informed that the annual London Open Gardens is likely to go ahead as a virtual event on June 12/13 & we’ve told the organisers we would like to take part. Gravitas has a drone which could be used to carry out a virtual tour of the garden & we could perhaps also provide a talk on the Garden Master Plan & its progress to date.


We are working towards a July 2/3 date for the annual Family Fun Day & hoping to stage the traditional Fireworks night in November. A return of



Shakespeare in the Squares may also be on the cards & we have already had some strong support for the idea of staging occasional movie nights.


If there is anything else you would like to see considered by our crack Events team please email our Agents, Westbourne Block Management, on




Finally a reminder about the social distancing rule which has been in force almost from the beginning of the pandemic as it applies in the Garden. We are asking walkers and joggers using the pathways go in a clockwise direction to reduce the possibility of contact. Joggers approaching walkers should overtake them by using the garden turf to ensure a two-metre wide gap. All children under the age of six must be accompanied by at least one parent to ensure the distancing rule is observed.

Regular up-dates on government regulations should be found on the Formosa Amenity website if I can manage to keep up with the game!


The Formosa Garden Board regularly produces a Newsletter that gives residents an overview of how the Garden is progressing against our plans as well as helpful tips on getting the most out of our Communal Garden.  The latest newsletter is shown above and copies of previous newsletters are available here.

Viv Robins is the Editor of the Newsletters and you can send her any ideas for content via

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