The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (February issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public noticeboards.
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 Roy Berriman at [email protected]

The Park in February

Bullfinches are seldom seen in the Park but they are a treat when they are around. The male especially has a bright pinkish-red chest and cheeks and a smart charcoal coloured head. They are UK resident birds and feed on buds and seeds with their short beak and were once considered a pest by fruit growers.

Contractors working in the Park Over the next few months there will be a number of improvements happening in the Park. These include fence repairs to Sidmouth Woods, work in Isabella Plantation, bridleway repairs near Martin’s Pond, the removal of Park gates for repair/decoration, and toilet redecorations. Most of these works are maintenance and repair projects that have been on hold since the summer whilst staff were busy with the Jubilee and Olympics. The toilets will be closed whilst they are being decorated but this will normally be just one location at a time.

New access path As part of the golf course redevelopment, a new path is due to be constructed linking Robin Hood gate with Chohole Gate (the new golf course entrance situated off the A3). The route will run adjacent to the park wall and will simply allow cyclists and pedestrians a more peaceful and direct route than the roads. Dogs will have to be kept on leads to ensure they do not run onto the golf course. Whilst the path work is due to start soon, it will not be opened until a new pedestrian bridge is installed later in the spring.

Bracken control A recent review of the bracken areas in the Park indicates that it is spreading by at least one to two hectares per year. Whilst bracken does have some benefits in the park, large extensive stands suppress other plants and reduce insect levels. Large areas of bracken in the south of the Park have been cut or rolled (by the Shire horse team) for many years.

This winter the horse team is preparing areas in the north of the park so they can also be rolled this summer. They are harrowing the dead bracken (to reduce its volume) and checking the area is clear of logs and stumps that would be difficult to see in June when the plant is in full height. The new areas for control are between Sidmouth woods and Pen Ponds and around White Ash pond.

Hedge laying The paddock surrounding Holly Lodge was planted with a native hedge in 2007 by the community payback scheme. five years on and the double row of Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel and other species is large enough to ‘lay’. This traditional countryside skill involved cutting about half way into the base of each tree so that it can be laid at about 30-45 degrees incline. The trees are woven between hazel stakes driven into the ground and then secured by twisting long thin rods of hazel along the tops of the stakes. Not only is the finished product a work of art but it was the only way to create a stock proof barrier (in the days before barbed wire). Nowadays hedges are valued as much for their habitat value creating nesting and feeding opportunities for birds and insects etc.

The Isabella Plantation in February

Trees and shrubs with coloured and textured bark

The pollarded willows on the banks of Peg's Pond are forms of Salix alba, with amber and red stems.
Yellow-stemmed dogwood, Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea', grows nearby under the weeping willow, and in the Bog Garden.
Red-stemmed dogwood, Cornus alba, is set back behind the heathers, and throughout the Bog Garden. Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ has orange and red stems which show throughout the winter months and can also be found in the Bog Garden.
The “River Birch”, Betula nigra, has papery shredding buff coloured bark. Two of these trees grow on the north side of the Main Stream; one above the Heather Garden and the other towards the top.
Three “Himalayan Birches”, B. jacquemontii, with striking white stems, stand on the lawn above Thomson's Pond.
The “Tibetan Cherry”, Prunus serrula, has gleaming mahogany-red bark beginning to peel into curly shreds. One is set back on the lawn to the north east of Thomson's Pond. Three other good specimens may also be found in Wilson’s Glade.
Acer hersii, at the north end of the Acer Glade path, is one of several 'snake bark' Acers in the garden.

Heather garden
Erica x darleyensis comes into flower in its pink and white forms.
Tawny seed heads of Erica vagans remain decorative all winter.
The tall “Portugal Heath”, Erica lusitanica, bears slightly fragrant tubular white flowers opening from pink buds throughout winter.
Clumps may be found towards the top of the Heather Garden, near the junction of Thomson's Stream and the Main Stream.
Nandina domestica “Sacred Bamboo”, is planted behind the heather in several places, is truly a plant for all seasons. Decorative evergreen leaves are tinged purple in spring and autumn, panicles of white flowers open in the summer to provide orange red berries throughout winter.

Flowering shrubs
Hamamelis mollis, the “Witch Hazel”, has fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill.
Lonicera X purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ is a shrubby honeysuckle which bears tiny white fragrant flowers throughout winter. A group of these shrubs grows by the Acer Glade path.
Rhododendron dauricum ‘Midwinter’ is a semi–evergreen or deciduous Rhododendron which grows on Bluebell Walk and looks stunning this month with its phlox purple flowers.
Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ flowers pink in bud and fades to white grows alongside the main stream path above the Bog Garden. The name refers to the one time practice of forcing this plant for decoration.
Camellia japonica ‘Nobilissima’, with white peony-form flowers, grows in the woodland ride to the north of Thomson’s Stream.
The williamsii hybrid Camellia ‘Parkside’ bears an abundance of semi-double flowers in a clear pink and can be found growing in the glade next to Thomson’s Lawn. Many other Camellias are beginning to flower around the gardens.
Cornus mas, the “Cornelian Cherry” grows in the shelterbelt near the gate to disabled car park. It produces lots of small yellow flowers on the naked stems throughout February.
Look out for the daffodil Narcissus cyclamineus growing naturalised in the lawns to the left of the Top Gate which bear delicate rich golden pendulous flowers.

Isabella Plantation garden walks

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.
Walks will take place on:

February Sunday 10, Friday 22
March Sunday 17, Friday 1 and 22

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.

©The Royal Parks