The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (February 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

February in Richmond Park

Jim (1983-2015) Jim was a Dutch-born Shire Horse whose working life took him to Germany to pull a trade carriage. A photo of a car that had crashed into the carriage with Jim’s expression of puzzlement (when most horses would have bolted) proved he was a mature, safe horse and perfect to start work at Hampton Court Palace some ten years ago. He was the foundation for all other horses, solid as a rock. He pulled the tram showing all young horses how it's done. Representing the Royal Parks, he welcomed HM The Queen, spent the summers cutting grass or rolling bracken and became world-famous maintaining the Olympic rings, cut 300m wide. The games' organisers acknowledged this was the most popular item of their publicity. Jim became ‘Nelson’ for a day, to launch Simon Weston's children’s' books featuring a Shire horse and was the guest of honour at a centenary birthday celebration at the Star and Garter home.

In semi-retirement Jim excelled at a new therapeutic role. He emotionally connected with people, be they company executives or young people diagnosed with autism. Jim did what he did best: quietly observing the world, accepting things for what they are, unflappable. Jim was the prototype porcelain Shire horse, a gentle giant who leaves a big gap in our herd – and in our hearts.

Toilet charges The Royal Parks will be introducing a 20 pence charge to use the toilet. This will NOT affect toilets by cafes or playgrounds. In Richmond Park toilets at Richmond, Sheen, Kingston and Robin Hood Gates will be ‘pay to use’. The pay to use equipment is due to be installed this spring.

February in the Isabella Plantation

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”, 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, bearing delicate rich pendulous flowers

Isabella Garden Walks

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

February: Friday 27th
March: Friday 6th & 27th , Sunday 15th

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.