The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (August 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 August
The Richmond Park Open Day This takes place on 13th September at Holly Lodge. It is open to the public from 11am until 4pm; it is free to enter but parking is charged at £5 per car.
Displays will be put on by all the organisations that work and help the park or fit within the countryside and garden theme. Come along to find out about the history of the park, the wildlife, see the shire horses, have a pony ride, enjoy the displays of cars and machinery, traditional woodworking or educational activities.
Bracken control Bracken is a fern that spreads by underground ‘rhizomes’ gradually increase in area every year. It shades out other species and becomes a dense monoculture that compromises the wildlife value of the park. Left unchecked, bracken would take over the parks grassland by about 1-2 hectares a year.
The Royal Parks control bracken by rolling with the Shire horse team and treating with herbicide where rolling is not possible. Areas previously treated quickly establish as grassland and wild flowers can be seen once again. In September look out for Hare Bells. These delicate blue flowers were said to chime to warn the hares of danger. Well, not loudly enough as the last hares were seen in the park in 1972.
Ticks Deer ticks continue to be present in higher than normal numbers during September and the dense bracken offers them ideal conditions to transfer onto humans and animals. The ticks feed by piercing the skin to suck blood, which can transmit an illness called Lymes Disease.
A leaflet containing further information and advice may be obtained from the Royal Parks website. The risk is very small and should not deter people from enjoying the Park, but it is advisable to take the following precautions:
• Keep covered in long grass and avoid walking through bracken, or use insect repellent if bare-legged
• Check your skin and pets fur for the presence of ticks, which may be removed by gently twisting and pulling to ensure that the mouthparts are not left behind. Carefully wash the area after the bite.
• If you do get a tick check for a ‘bulls-eye’ rash and consult your doctor.
• In case of difficulty, consult your doctor.
Water boatmen These small brown bugs live in the Parks ponds and 2 of their legs are adapted to form small paddles that they use to swim through the water. They are vegetarian, live near the bottom and come to the surface to take a fresh air supply. The name Greater Water Boatman was used for a very similar bug that swims on its back. In recent years these tend to be called back swimmers to avoid confusion. Backswimmers are carnivorous and eat tadpoles – they can also give people pond dipping a bit of a nip!
Isabella Plantation in August
Flowering shrubs worth seeking out include:
Magnolia grandiflora – Occupies a secluded glade to the south of Thomson's Pond. It has large white flowers with a delicious fragrance set amongst glossy evergreen leaves. Petals fall to reveal striking seed heads.
Clethra alnifolia – The Sweet Pepper Bush, also fragrant, is opposite the tall pine below the gate to Broomfield Hill and also below Thomson’s Pond.
Hydrangea quercifolia – on the Birthday Mound and elsewhere, has panicles of white flowers, and foliage resembling coarse oak leaves, which takes on rich Autumn colours later in the year.
Hydrangea paniculata 'Tardiva' – also bears panicles of white flowers, and is set in woodland near the gate towards Pen Ponds, and elsewhere in the Garden.
Hydrangea aspera subsp. Sargentiana – Grows in Wilson’s Glade in the north east corner, this upright gaunt shrub bears broad heads of flowers from late summer to mid-autumn, the inner ones are blue or deep purple, the outer ones are large and white.
Sorbaria kirilowii – Also found in Wilson’s Glade produces white flowers in large conical panicles throughout July and August.
Heptacodium miconioides – Is a vigorous shrub that bears lightly scented clusters of white flowers throughout late summer and early autumn. It can be found growing below Thomson’s Pond and also on the Birthday Mound.
Calycanthus occidentalis – Grows at the top end of the Old Nursery. This Californian species bears large red-brown flowers throughout the summer.
Summer-flowering shrubs The Heather Garden includes varieties of Erica vagans, the Cornish Heath, such as 'Mrs. Maxwell' – dark pink; 'Rosea' – light pink; and 'Cornish Cream' – cream. Several varieties of Calluna vulgaris have coloured foliage, such as 'Gold Haze' – white flower and gold leaf; and 'Robert Chapman' – purple flower with bronze foliage. Daboecia cantabrica has white or purple waxy bells.
Along the streams Many native marginal plants are in flower, such as Purple and Yellow Loosestrife, Meadowsweet, Greater Willowherb and Hemp Agrimony. These wild flowers, along with the heathers, attract many butterflies. Elsewhere, streamside clumps of Hemerocallis, the Day Lily, produce a succession of tall yellow or orange trumpet-shaped flowers throughout July and August; each flower lasting only a day.
Thomson’s pond and the bog garden Here there are fine stands of Pontederia cordata, the Pickerel Weed, with spikes of blue flowers amongst erect spear-shaped leaves.
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 walks
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on the following dates:
August: Friday 7th 28th, Sunday 9th
September: Friday 4th and 25th, Sunday 20th
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.