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
The Park in August
Park Road closures Do remember that the park roads will be closed all day on Sunday August 10th to facilitate the Ride London / Surrey cycling event. Between 6.30 and 10.30 am almost 30,000 cyclists will pass through the park, followed by the professional cycle race at around 13.30hrs. The Park roads will also be closed on Sunday September 14th for the London Duathlon.
Green flag award Last month Richmond Park was awarded a Green Flag for the seventh year running. This award is given in recognition of achieving the national standard for parks and open spaces in England and Wales. It reflects positively on all of the excellent work carried out by The Royal Parks staff, contractors, concessions and volunteers.
Bracken control Bracken is a fern that spreads by underground ‘rhizomes’ gradually increasing 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.
Last year the Royal Parks increased their commitment to bracken control by rolling additional areas with the Shire horse team and treating some 5 Ha with herbicide. This will continue this year, but the results can clearly be seen. Grasses and flowers have started to re-colonise and an increase in insect levels can be observed.
Ragwort This yellow grassland flower is an agricultural pest because it is poisonous to livestock, especially when dried and within hay. However, is also provides a useful nectar and food source for insects, attracting numerous butterflies and Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. The decision to control Ragwort (or not) always attracts debate, and arguably there is no right answer.
The Royal Parks chooses to uproot it as late as possible, after the flowers have bloomed, but before it sets too many seeds. We concentrate our efforts first along horse rides and in the hay cut areas but in more remote areas, we may leave a few plants to allow insects their food.
Grasshoppers and crickets The group of insects known as Orthoptera includes the 27 native species of Grasshoppers, Ground Hoppers, Bush Crickets and True Crickets. The eggs and nymphs require warm humid conditions and have therefore benefitted from this summer’s hot weather with occasional rain. They can be seen in the parks grassland and the constant churring sound they make is resonant with long English summers. This churring is generally made by male grasshoppers rubbing the serrated edges of their forewings together. They alter the tone and pitch producing a complicated variety of sounds for different parts of their courtship displays.
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 frows 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 in the Heather Garden include 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, have fine stands of Pontederia cordata, the Pickerel Weed, with spikes of blue flowers amongst erect spear-shaped leaves. In the Bog Garden look out for the creamy–yellow flowers of Kirengeshoma palmata which show until the autumn.
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.
Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2014
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
August Sunday 10th, Friday 29th
Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11am