The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (April issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public notice boards. 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 Chris Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org
Richmond Park in April
Solar energy The Royal Parks have recently invested in solar energy by installing 44 solar panels onto the roof of Holly Lodge. The cost of installation should be recovered through a saving in electricity bill in around 10 years. Of all the roofs in all the Royal Parks, Holly Lodge was selected on the basis of orientation to sun and construction type – how the panels are relatively concealed from view such that they do not depreciate the aesthetics of the park. Holly Lodge also has the advantage of having an education centre so the solar panels and the meter reading displays will help with lessons regarding weather and renewable energy.
Caution – Lyme Disease The warm weather and plant growth provides cover for ticks that can attach themselves to deer, dogs or humans, potentially causing Lyme Disease. Whilst the chances of contracting the disease are low, symptoms can be serious so it’s worth taking sensible precautions. Wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirts and using insect repellents can help to prevent ticks. If you find a tick on you and develop cold/flu like symptoms or find a rash develops it is precautionary to tell your doctor. Dogs can be prevented from getting ticks by using drops supplied in pet shops or vets. A leaflet is available from Holly Lodge or contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or see their website.
Robin Hood car park Is due to reopen before Easter following the landscaping and surfacing works.
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 smelled 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.
Isabella Plantation Most regular Park users are aware of the Isabella Plantation’s glorious spring colour. It’s worth a visit all year round but the collection of Azaleas come into bloom in April. The peak time to see the best display is usually the last week of April or the firt week of May. It is always busy at this time of year especially at weekends, but now that vehicle gates are open until 19.30 or later, a peaceful evening can also be enjoyed.
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 to 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 there 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, that are pink on the outside and white inside, with 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.
Wheelchair available A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9am and 3pm. Please ring 0300 061 2200 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.
Isabella Plantation garden walks
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on Sunday 19th April and Friday 24th April.
Walks last about one and a half hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11am.