August Park Diary

Photo by Susan Lindenberg

90% increase in gel pack litter from Ride London. A check by FRP monitors over a 600m stretch of the Ride London route in the Park has shown a 90% increase in discarded gel packs compared to last year. This presents a growing threat to deer health. It is clear that the event organisers are not taking sufficient action to tackle the problem and we have written to them and Zac Goldsmith asking to meet to discuss future action. See the press release issued to the media on 3rd August. Press Release

Petersham Rd closure. A reminder that Petersham Road, which closed on 1st August, will not reopen until 5th September. During this time, traffic will be diverted through the park (park opening hours only). See report below.

The Royal Parks interviews. Following the appointment of the new TRP Chairman Loyd Grossman, he and the Chief Executive Andrew Scattergood have been interviewed about their plans and ambitions for the new organisation that will combine TRP, which manages the Royal Parks, and the Royal Parks Foundation, which raises money for the Parks.
 Loyd Grossman’s interview
 Andrew Scattergood’s interview

Managing the Bracken. The summer newsletter article on bracken management referred to the bracken crushing done by the Shire Horses. If you haven’t seen this in action, the Friends website has the article and a short video filmed and edited by Adam Baranowski for Friends of Richmond Park; music is from with thanks to Ed and Tom from Operation Centaur.

Oak Processionary Moths. OPM nest spotting has now finished. A big thank you to the 40 or so Friends volunteers who spent many happy hours craning their necks to spot the pests. Nest removal is continuing, although it has been slowed down by the large number of nests in some trees. You will probably continue to see people in space suits on cherry pickers for a while yet. We won't get a full picture of this year's experience until the late Autumn.

Friday morning walks. Whilst the Friday morning walks are billed as “Informal Birdwatching”, we are finding that the range of wildlife interest is much broader in the warm summer months with some of our regular walkers very knowledgeable about butterflies, dragonflies etc. We have even managed recent sightings, and pics, of grass snakes, both sunbathing and swimming!
Do please join us, whether knowledgeable or just interested in learning a bit more about the Park’s rich ecology – we meet every Friday at the Pen Ponds coffee kiosk at 9.30am, whatever the weather! (Peter Burrows-Smith)

Discoverers 18th and 19th Aug. Discoverers will be joining the Holly Lodge Centre in Roehampton Gate Gardens on these dates from 11am – 2pm in their Summer Fun ‘pop-up’ sessions, consisting of various craft activities around the theme of deer and other wildlife in the Park, with the aim of encouraging families from Roehampton into the park. To find the Gardens, come in through Roehampton Gate, turn left and it is immediately on your left; there will be gazebos and a flag to show where it is. Note that the activities are for children and their families, so children must be accompanied by an adult at all times – you cannot leave your children and collect them later.

EVENTS CALENDAR (Next few months)

6 Aug Kingston Gate car park
3 Sept Robin Hood Gate car park
1 Oct Sheen Gate car park (+ Walk the Wall option)
5 Nov Pembroke Lodge car park
All welcome, start at 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise

Informal birdwatching walks – Fridays – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am

8 Oct DEER (Peter Burrows-Smith)
22 Oct FUNGI (Janet Bostock and Elisabeth Cheesman)
Pembroke Lodge 10am – Friends members only – no need to book – just turn up.

ROADWORKS AND CONGESTION. The planned road works and diversion at Petersham Road and road works at Star and Garter Hill commenced on 1st August. Initially the works at Star and Garter Hill caused considerable congestion within the park but the traffic management was altered on 3rd August and this improved the situation. The park will receive a higher volume of traffic until 5th September and many cars are diverting around the south and east side of the Park to avoid the delays.

RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNERSHIP. Richmond Park is a very popular place to walk dogs and for good reason. The Royal Parks welcome dog walkers but ask them to be ‘responsible’ – this means: – Pick up after your dog every time and don’t let them chase deer or other wildlife. Make sure your dog has a tag with the telephone number of the person walking the dog at all times. Micro chipping a dog confirms proof of ownership but does not allow a dog to be reunited with the owner quickly so it’s best to keep a spare tag as well. To ensure your dog is not a nuisance or annoyance to others, make sure it has good recall and be aware of people that may be uncomfortable with dogs so you can recall them and put them on the lead. It’s also recommended to have 3rd party liability insurance. Please respect the areas that dogs aren’t allowed or need to be on a lead (which may be seasonal). When you first treat your dog with flea and tick treatment this can wash off in ponds and kill pond invertebrates causing serious environmental damage, so keep dogs out of streams and ponds for at least a week after treatment. Finally never leave a dog in a car on hot days.

CONTAMINATED WATER IN THE BEVERLEY BROOK. When it rains on the public highway, the runoff washes into storm drains that connect to rivers and keep the roads from flooding. The water can be contaminated with debris from worn car tyres and drips of oil etc. from cars. After storms, the water that eventually flows into the Beverley Brook where the storm drain terminates can be contaminated and look discoloured. This autumn the Royal Parks are working with the South East Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency to install a piece of infrastructure to help clean the pollutants from the water before it enters the Brook. This small structure will be located just inside the park boundary by Roehampton Car Park.

DOGWOOD. When a plant is prefixed with the word ‘dog’, it often refers to it having little or inferior value. However this short shrub produces hard straight stems that were used to make animal prods known as dags – so ‘dogwood’ may be a derivative of ‘dagwood’. Chaucer referred to dog wood as ‘whipple tree’ sharing the name with a device used to evenly distribute the pulling power of a horse team down to a single rope, using 3 or more bars made from dog wood and still used by Richmond Parks’ shire horses today. Various dogwood species and cultivars are planted in perennial borders and the true native Dogwood is planted in hedgerows in Richmond Park.


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. In the Heather Garden are 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. 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 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 

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

Sunday 14th and Friday 26th

Friday 2nd & 30th and Sunday 11th

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.