Photo: Caltha Palustris, ©The Royal Parks

Parking  charges  to  go  ahead 

The Royal Parks (TRP) has decided to go ahead with car parking charges in Richmond and Bushy Parks, following its consultation last year. The charges will be £1.40 per hour from 9 to 4 on Monday to Friday, and £2 per hour from 9 to 6 on Saturday and Sunday. Blue Badge holders and motorcycles will continue to be free. The maximum stay will be 6 hours.

There are two changes from the proposals set out in the consultation – a reduction in the weekday hours from 9-6 to 9-4 and an increase in the charge on Saturdays from £1.40 per hour to £2 per hour. The Friends argued for both changes in our response to the consultation – the first to give some help to regular visitors to the Park and the second because Saturday is as busy as, and sometimes busier than, Sunday.

The consultation received 12,000 responses, with (not surprisingly) 81% of respondents against the charges.

In our view, car parking charges are a reasonable way to tackle car park congestion at week-ends and bank holidays, reduce week-day commuter parking in Kingston Gate and Pembroke Lodge car parks, encourage more non-car travel to the Park and fund the traffic-related infrastructure of the Park.

TRP’s announcement says that “Monies raised will be spent on related infrastructure such as road surface maintenance, pedestrian facilities and other projects that aim to help visitors access the park without needing a car” and we think the money from parking charges should be held in a dedicated account for such expenditure in Richmond Park only.

The proposed parking charges require the approval of Parliament (since they are a change to Royal Parks Regulations) and TRP says they “can only be tabled when the Parliamentary timetable allows, which is unlikely to be in the near future”, so it looks as if there will still be free parking this summer.

See the full Royal Parks’ announcement HERE

1st  May  –  Zoom  Webinar  –  with  the  Urban  Birder  and  Richmond  Park’s  beautiful  birds (Friends’ member exclusive)

Renowned broadcaster, writer, columnist and speaker David Lindo, known to many as The Urban Birder, joins us as a very special guest for our Richmond Park bird webinar on Sat 1st May at 10.30am.  If you’re one of the RSPB’s 1.1 million members, you’ll be familiar with David’s excellent writing on birds and wildlife.  As well as a presentation on urban birding by David, the webinar will include a short film on the marvellous migrant and remarkable resident birds of Richmond Park together with lots of pictures, videos, interviews, plenty of fun and your chance to ask bird brain David all your bird questions. You’ll need to be a Friends’ member to take part in the webinar, join here  and then  Register for the webinar 

The  Royal  Parks  Police  –  a  typical  Sunday

Here’s what Richmond Park officers dealt with on a typical recent Sunday in lockdown:

  • 8 parking tickets issued
  • 1 vehicle reported for driving off road
  • 1 person reported for allowing their dog to chase a horse
  • In excess of 150 people warned to move away from the deer
  • 6yr old child reunited with family
  • 6 warnings of off track cycling
  • Dog/cyclist collision reported (ambulance attended cyclist, but not hospitalised)
  • 4 warnings of dogs off leads in skylark fields
  • 2 people reported for allowing their dogs to chase deer
  • 2 people reported for feeding deer
  • Suspicious package at Ham gate (it was a handbag)
  • Attended & assisted rider who had fallen from horse (taken to hospital)
  • Cyclists collision reported, ruptured ligaments (taken to hospital)
  • Cyclist/skateboarder collision reported, suspected broken collar bone (taken to hospital)

2021 AGM

Our 2021 AGM, Ron Crompton’s last as chairman, will be on Saturday 24 April 2021 at 11.00am by Zoom.  Members have received more information, including our Review of 2020, in an insert in the Spring Newsletter. While there will be some formal business, the large majority of the meeting will be devoted to a celebratory recap of the last 60 years of the Friends and the Park, the traditional Chairman’s review of last year and an opportunity for members to ask questions and discuss what is happening in the Friends and the Park.  Please note it will be members only.

Photography  competition  –  The  Trees  of  Richmond  Park  in  Spring

Free entry. Closing date 31 May 2021

As part of the Year of the Tree, the Friends of Richmond Park are running a series of seasonal photography competitions. ‘Spring’ is the last one, postponed from last year due to Covid restrictions. The overall theme is images that show the character of the Park’s trees.  Images can be of any part of a tree, whole trees or groups of trees. Entrance is free.

See here for details of how to enter, the prizes and Terms and Conditions.

Children’s  poster  competition  results

There were some very inspired entries to our children’s anti-litter poster competition – “Bag it, Bin it, Take it home”. The competition was judged by Park Manager Simon Richards and Friends’ Trustees. The winner is Bebe Walkden, with runners-up Chrissy Maclean and Olivia Mancebo. These winning posters feature on noticeboards all around the Park. See the entries here 

Visitor  Centre  reopens

The Visitor Centre is now open 4 days a week Thursday to Sunday at 10am to 4pm to provide VISITOR INFORMATION ONLY. From 15 April the Centre will be fully open to sell gifts, souvenirs and guides as normal, payment by debit/credit card only.

Skylark  areas

A further request to please respect the skylark protection areas at Lawn Field (between Lower Pen Pond and the Ballet School) and Crown Field (the other side of Beverley Brook from Roehampton Gate car park) by keeping to the paths and keeping dogs on leads. Many people are doing so but others are not, so please get the message out to your family and friends and to others you meet, especially fellow dog walkers.

Unexploded incendiary device

You may have been in the Park last Sunday evening (28 March) to find that a section of it was closed. The closure was due to a WWII German Incendiary device, which was taken away from the Park and detonated. 

Photos  for  the  2022  Friends’  calendar  Closing  date  25  April.

Last chance to submit your photos of Richmond Park for the Friends’ 2022 calendar. Please see www.frp.org.uk/calendar2022  for details of how and where to send them.  We look forward to seeing your amazing images – a maximum number of 8 photos from each photographer, but not more than 4 from any one season: winter, spring, summer, autumn. The 2021 calendar sold out and raised a record amount for projects in the Park. We are very grateful to all who donated their photos.

Richmond  Park  Walks  with  Remarkable  Trees

Available to buy now!

The first and second sets of our very popular self-guided tree walks are now on sale for delivery by post, for £5 each set + p&p. Download the order form here.

Discover the diversity and majestic beauty of some of the Park’s most interesting trees and also have a good walk in areas you may not otherwise get to see.

All the walks are circular routes starting from a car park and between 2 and 5km long. Each walk is in its own easy-to-use 12-page booklet with many helpful photos.  We have received lots of excellent feedback: “Brilliant, well written, superbly laid out, good levels of information”; “I love it so much I would like to order another for my family”.  

Do  you  have  a  sponsored  bench?

The Royal Parks is replacing benches within Pembroke Lodge Gardens. Many of the benches are over 40 years old and their condition is such that they now need to be replaced. It is often the case that The Royal Parks no longer holds valid contact details for families of older benches. If you or one of your family members has a bench dedication within Pembroke Lodge Gardens or anywhere in Richmond Park that dates back more than 12 years then please  contact Maggie  [email protected]

E-scooters

Our Spring newsletter had a piece about e-scooters in the Park. The police have given further  information on the general situation; they say “Currently, e-scooters are illegal to use anywhere other than on private land with the landowners permission. They are classified as Motor Vehicles and therefore require a driving licence, insurance, road tax and various other requirements, such as number plates. Riders that use e-scooters on the roads outside or in Richmond Park risk a £300 fine and 6 penalty points for No Insurance and up to £100 fine and 3-6 penalty points for driving not in accordance with a licence.”

“The Metropolitan Police will take all the circumstances into account when we stop someone on a e-scooter. Often we will provide advice to the rider about the law, as many riders have been sold the e-scooter without realising the legal implications. However, if deemed appropriate, we can seize e-scooters for having no insurance and prosecute riders. In addition, e-scooters riding on paths in the parks will also be breaching the Royal Parks & Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997.”

Here is a useful link explaining advice on E-scooters and some of the e-scooter trials: https://www.met.police.uk/e-scooters

Life  in  dead  wood

Dead wood is a wonderful habitat as long as it is damp. Fallen branches, cut logs, fallen or felled trees, should lie where they fall where they will be inhabited by a succession of invertebrates (beetles, spiders, slugs, snails), fungi, bacteria and mosses, all of which contribute to the breaking down of the wood. Nutrients are slowly recycled and released into the soil fertilizing the woodland. Birds will search for and eat these invertebrates so the rotting wood becomes part of the food chain.

In an undisturbed log pile, small birds, for example wrens, may nest. Small mammals, like voles, may hide and make nests. The shelter provides perfect cover for hibernating amphibians and reptiles. Bramble will probably grow over the pile and moss will grow on the logs, increasing protection for the inhabitants and helping to keep the wood damp. It is important that these log piles are not moved but left to gently rot down.

Building dens against trees dries the wood and both disturbs and removes this habitat. Working with The Royal Parks, the Friends conservation volunteers will be dismantling some dens, placing the wood in enclosures where the piles of wood will create a home for the creatures mentioned above.

More information about den building. Try building your own log pile in a shady area of your garden and look for the insects which might take up residence.

Take  a  walk  down  the  Driftway

The Driftway is the footpath through the centre of Sidmouth Wood.  It was once a dark, spooky walk through twisted branches of the purple flowered Rhododendron ponticum.  After it was cleared by contractors about 5 years ago a forest of the silver birch sprouted.  Birch is called a pioneer species and sometimes called invasive as the wind-blown seeds readily grow given light and soil.  Silver birch provide food and a habitat for more than 300 species of insect and are associated with several fungi including the Fly Agaric.  Woodpecker often choose a birch when making a new nesting hole.  With their small leaves the light filters though allowing grasses and woodland flowers to grow.

While that sounds like good news, another species was reappearing – the rhododendron also reseeded. We had a mini forest of pioneers – birch, rhododendron and bramble.  Left alone, the rhododendron would win, shading out other plants with its thick evergreen leaves.

From August to December last year the conservation volunteers worked every Saturday morning removing the rhododendrons and some silver birch.  Clumps of birch have been left as they will provide thickets where birds feel safe and can nest and feed.

A mix of native shrubs and trees are being planted:  hazel, dog rose, blackthorn (sloe), guelder rose, hawthorn, spindle and dogwood.  These are all plants which have flowers, fruits and some have colourful leaves or twigs in the autumn.  They provide food for a variety of insects, birds and small mammals.   Some glades will be left for grasses, mosses and flowers to colonise. In a few years this will this become a pretty walk through a mixed woodland and it will also be part of the mosaic of habitats found in the park.

The Friends’ volunteer group will be back each year for some weeding until the rhododendron stop appearing and to check on progress. For more information on wildlife in the park go to the Friends or the Royal Parks websites.

Quarterly Newsletter – online option

Friends’ members currently receive Spring, Summer and Autumn Newsletters as a printed booklet. To receive them as a downloadable pdf document instead, members should email Chris Mason at [email protected] with the Subject heading “Newsletter as pdf”.

You can see past issues of newsletters as pdfs here on our website

Richmond  Park  Diary

©The Royal Parks

Oak Processionary Moth spraying

In April, the eggs of the invasive insect, Oak Processionary Moth, start hatching. The eggs over-winter on the twigs of oak trees and the young caterpillars emerge as the weather gets warmer and the leaves on which they feed unfurl. The caterpillars may cause extensive defoliation of the host tree and carry toxic hairs which can pose a threat to human and animal health.

Early season management of this challenging pest includes targeted spraying of a biological insecticide in mid to late April in certain areas of the park. Some of this takes place at night to minimise inconvenience to park users. However, day-time spraying is sometimes necessary, particularly where ground conditions are unsuitable for night-time working. Please avoid the proximity of the spraying operation and follow any instructions given by the ground crew accompanying the spraying rigs.

Car  parking  charges

Following an 8 week consultation The Royal Parks will introduce parking charges in Richmond Park in all car parks, bringing them into line with its policy across the rest of the Royal Parks.  In response to concerns raised in the consultation, it is proposed to charge on weekdays between 9am and 4pm, during park opening times, rather than 9am to 6pm.

The charges will help manage an increasing demand for parking in a limited number of car parks and encourages more sustainable travel. Revenue raised will be spent on related infrastructure such as road surface maintenance, pedestrian facilities and other projects that aim to help visitors access the park without needing a car.  The introduction of parking charges requires the approval of Parliament. The proposal can only be tabled when the Parliamentary timetable allows, which is unlikely to be in the near future.

Ticks  &  Lyme  Disease

Ticks are small, spider like insects that attach themselves to humans, dogs and other animals to feed on blood.  Whilst the risk is very low, they can transmit diseases including Lyme disease.  Ticks cannot fly or jump but instead they cling onto tall vegetation and wait for their host to brush past.

During spring, summer and autumn ticks are more numerous, more active and the park vegetation such as bracken is in ‘full frond’.  Park visitors are advised to guard against tick bites by avoiding tall vegetation (especially if wearing shorts) and stay on well-worn paths. Insect repellent can also be used.   Check yourself after walking in the parks and remove ticks immediately.  If concerned, you feel unwell, or a rash appears – consult your GP immediately.  Please visit the Royal Parks website for more information.

Isabella  Plantation in April

©The Royal Parks

The streams

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
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.

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 0300 061 2200 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.

Rhododendron reticulatum