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 

February in the Park

Gate Opening and Closing: The road gates to Richmond Park are open between dawn and dusk by a security company contracted by the Royal Parks.  The times of opening and closing are displayed at each entrance gate and are on the Royal Parks website for the ensuing year.  The gates are closed at 16.00 hrs in winter, 21.00hrs in summer and adjust throughout the autumn and spring by approximately 15 minutes per week. Opening times are 07.00hrs in the summer and 07.30hrs in the winter.  The gates are closed to allow the deer and other wildlife the opportunity to move around the Park to feed without being injured by vehicles.  Pedestrian gates are left open at night but the gates are set to a double gate system that allows pedestrian access whilst preventing deer escaping.  Even the pedestrian gates are locked during the deer culls in February and November.  During the day the traffic gates can be left  open as the deer do not feel safe where there are high volumes of traffic.

Park Regulations:  On 15th January Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture Media and Sport announced a number of proposed changes to the Park Regulations including the introduction of car parking charges in Richmond Park.  This follows a public consultation held in 2009. Subject to parliamentary approval, the changes are expected to come into force in the autumn of 2010.  Full details are on the Royal Parks web site  Permission for a public demonstration against the proposals was given for 30th January and attracted a great deal of local interest. 

Deer Cull: With no predators and 200 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Parks carrying capacity without human intervention.  To prevent starvation and habitat destruction, the deer are selectively culled during November and again in February.  This ensures a healthy herd of 630 with the correct balance of ages and sexes.

Cows: The 5 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 (Highland and Dexters) will remain until they have eaten all the grass required or the grazier needs them elsewhere.

Tree Planting:  During February the estate maintenance team will be busy planting trees.  Some of their work will be the replacement of larger trees in the wooden deer guards that have not established.   They are also planting a new boundary screen of holly, privet and thorn around the edge of Sidmouth woods.  A traditional livestock hedge will be planted around the fence at the new pond by Cambrian Gate.

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 bare delicate rich golden pendulous flowers

Isabella Garden Walks 2010

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

  • February: Friday 5th, Sunday 7th, & Friday 26th
  • March: Friday 5th, Sunday 14th, & Friday 26th

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 11.00a.m.

The Royal Parks' News and Isabella News are copyright The Royal Parks