The Royal Parks' team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (April issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public noticeboards. If you are a member of the Friends and would like to receive these monthly diaries by email, please send your name and email address to 

April in the Park

Isabella Plantation has Camellias, Magnolias, Pieris and Rhododendrons in bloom. The Japanese azaleas may be at their best at the end of this month or the beginning of May. A colourful Guide to the Isabella Plantation, priced 50 pence is available from Holly Lodge and the information centre at Pembroke Lodge.

Frogs, toads and newts These amphibians migrate on wet spring nights to mate in the Park’s 20, or so, ponds. Frog spawn is formed of the familiar clumps of clear ‘jelly-like’ balls, protecting the developing tadpole. Toad spawn takes the form of long continuous strands of ‘jelly’ dotted with the black eggs every centimetre or so. Newt spawn is the most difficult to see. All 3 newt species lay single eggs, tucked under the leaves of submerged aquatic plants. Please do not remove any tadpoles or spawn. Do not add any tadpoles or spawn to the ponds either, as this may introduce disease. Richmond Park is a National Nature Reserve, where wildlife is protected from disturbance.

Spring flowers With the advent of spring our native flowers including Bluebells, Primroses and Violets are starting to show. Bluebells tend only to be seen where the deer are excluded and are the quintessential woodland flower. Since 1998 it has been illegal to up root bluebells. They emerge early in the year to beat the trees, whose leaves emerge later and shade out available light. Folklore states that anyone who hears Bluebells chime would not have long to live! The name Primrose comes from ‘Prima Rosa’ meaning the first Rose of the year. The five petals represent birth, initiation, consummation, repose and death, whilst a rare primrose with 6 petals brings luck in love and marriage. There is a Myth that Violets can only be smelt once. Although untrue, the scent is short lived and one of the chemicals that make up the scent (iodine) has the ability to deaden our smell receptors that detect it.

Long-distance walks There are 2 long distance walks that include Richmond Park. The Capital Ring runs through the Park from Petersham to Robin Hood Gate and is part of a surprisingly rural route that encircles London. Distance is 125km (78miles) and cleverly links together Parks and open spaces, and quiet residential roads. It is divided into 15 sections with an average distance of 7.8km (4.9ml) and can be completed over a number of days or just enjoyed as an alternative to your usual walk. The Beverley Brook Walk runs through the Park from Robin Hood Gate to Roehampton Gate and is part of the 10km walk from Putney and Wimbledon, following the Beverly Brook. It is a very pleasant walk and offers good opportunities to see Kingfishers and other wildlife.

Deer No sooner have the deer cast their antlers, than new ones begin to grow. They are clothed in ‘velvet’, which is specialised skin covered in short erect hairs. The velvet contains nerves and a great many blood vessels to ensure nourishment reaches the growing antler. As the largest males cast their antlers first, they may lose rank to younger males still bearing a full head, so at this time they tend to seek seclusion from the herd. All deer are now moulting their winter coats. Magpies and Jackdaws may be seen riding on their backs to pluck out tufts for lining their nests.

The Isabella Plantation in April

The streams are bright with Marsh Marigolds, (Caltha palustris). The yellow hooded spathes of the American Skunk Cabbage, (Lysichiton americanus), which precede large rank leathery leaves, are conspicuous along the stream from the Still Pond. 

Camellias are still flowering throughout the Garden. They are mainly older Camellia japonica cultivars and a number of Williamsii hybrids.

Rhododendrons Along the Bluebell Walk, opposite the Acer Glade, look out for the bright purple flowers of the deciduous R. reticulatum. This month the Japanese azaleas start into flower. They are usually at their best during the last week of April and the first week of May. R.racemosum grows down the path from the Still Pond, it is a medium sized shrub that bears pale to bright pink flowers. Rhododendron ‘Quaker Girl’ grows in the glade set back from the path at the top of Thomson’s Stream and bears trusses of stunning white flowers with a deep crimson throat. Look out for Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ growing in a number of areas in the garden, this shrub produces compact trusses of rich crimson funnel shaped flowers with maroon spots. Early evergreen azaleas are beginning to flower throughout the garden look out for ‘Kirin’ a pale pink “hose in hose” (flower within an flower) and ‘Sylvester’ which has small deep pink flowers. In a glade set back from the Main Stream and other locations around the Garden are the blue flowering Rhododendrons from the Triflorum series these are Rhododendron augustinii and the R,chasmanthum hybrid Rhododendron ‘Electra’. 

Magnolias Throughout the gardens pink and white forms of Magnolia soulangiana come into flower. Along the Bluebell Walk are two small pink hybrids of M. stellata, called M. X loebneri 'Leonard Messel'. A larger one is set back by the Scots Pine to the far side of the Acer Glade. Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ one of the Gresham Hybrids grows in a ride off the Main Stream and has goblet shaped flowers, pink on the outside and white inside. Its flowers have a strong lavender scent. 

Daffodils In the Wet Lawn area near the top gate, the golden yellow flowers of Narcissus bulbocodium subsp. bulbocodium with conical cups and pointed petals have now appeared and succeed the delicate flowers of Narcissus cyclamineus, which are also naturalised in this area.

The Bog Garden Look out for the clusters of white or pale pink flowers borne on white–haired stems which are those of the “Umbrella Plant”, Darmera peltata which flowers before it produces foliage.

Guide to the Isabella Plantation A colourful leaflet guide, costing 50 pence, is on sale at Holly Lodge and is also available from the Park Warden in the Garden.

Wheelchair available A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9.00 and 15.00. Please ring 020 8948 3209 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required. 

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2010

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.

Walks will take place on:

April: Friday 9th and 30th, Sunday 18th

May: Friday 7th and 28th, Sunday 9th May

Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m.


The Royal Parks' News and Isabella News are copyright The Royal Parks.