Information from the Royal Parks team in Richmond Park

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Prince Charles Spinney:  This 5 hectare (12 acre) woodland on the south east of the Park is seldom visited.  Walkers that make it their destination appreciate the tranquillity and also see the bluebells in early spring.  The displays are looking impoverished as the woodland has suffered from neglect in recent years.  We are therefore undertaking work to improve the woodland and hopefully safeguard the bluebells.  The fence has been replaced and the deer are once again excluded, ensuring that damage to vegetation is reduced.  The trees themselves are an eclectic mix of veteran oak trees, mature native trees (such as hornbeam and cherry), non native trees (e.g. Robinia) and a large number of naturally regenerated birch that have competed with each other for light and developed into tall slender trees with under developed crowns.  TREE FELLING WILL BE UNDERTAKEN in 1/5th of the woodland in February to remove the non-natives and birches – trees with poor form or species. Replanting will consist of shrub forming species, predominantly hazel. The work will look a little harsh when first completed but the new trees will quickly establish into woodland with a balance of shade and light needed to support woodland ground flora.

Park Regulations:  The Royal Parks is considering a number of changes to park regulations including the introduction of car parking charges in Richmond Park and Bushy Park.  We are holding a 13-week consultation on the proposed changes which runs until Friday 1 May 2009.  A copy of the consultation document is available at or write to: – Regulation Consultation, The Royal Parks, The Old Police House, Hyde Park, London W2 2UH or pick up a copy from the Park office at Holly Lodge during office hours.

Cows: The 3 Cows continue to graze the 4-hectare paddock on Sawyer's hill, near Holly Lodge.  This trial grazing project is being undertaken to see if the cows have a beneficial effect on the rare acid grassland.  Cows were known to have roamed Richmond Park at least until 1943 and it is thought that their absence has contributed to the decline of species diversity of the grassland.  The cows (British White x Gloucester) will remain until they have eaten all the grass required or the grazier needs them elsewhere.

Tree planting: This winter the estate maintenance team will plant nearly 100 trees.  About 30 of these are completely new trees, whilst the rest are replacements of various aged trees.  The traditional livestock hedge planted around the Shire Horse paddock will also have any gaps planted up with replacement trees and a small blackthorn enclosure will be planted at the edge of Spankers Wood to establish whether Blackthorn can withstand deer browsing. 


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 bare delicate rich golden pendulous flowers.

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