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 firstname.lastname@example.org
February in the Park
Deer cull With no predators and approximately 170 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Park's 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.
Estate management projects During February and March there are a few estate maintenance projects due to be undertaken. These include repairs to a central stretch of horse track and woodland thinning/chipping in Queen Elizabeth Plantation. The fence around Isabella Plantation will be over-hauled and Rhododendron ponticum removed from the conservation area within.
Wood pigeons (and stock doves) Whilst wood pigeons are a resident bird to the UK, they do have a tendency to fly from all over the UK and over winter in the south. The counties surrounding London are very wooded with Surrey having the highest proportion of woodland in Britain (25%). It is presumed that pigeons move to where food availability is high such as the broad leaf woodlands of south east England. Recently the numbers of wood pigeons in the park have risen such that flocks of several hundred have been seen flying overhead, roosting at dusk or feeding on the abundant acorns. To distinguish a wood pigeon from a stock dove look for their white collar and wing markings – they are absent on stock doves.
Richmond Park fences The Park uses two or three different types of fencing. In large enclosures the metal post and wire deer fencing ‘system’ is known by the trade name ‘flextella fencing’ it is long lasting and very good at keeping deer out (if maintained). When a repair is needed it is possible to replace a single post or wire without dismantling the whole fence. Away from woodland plantations, smaller enclosures are usually constructed from chestnut paling.
Sweet chestnut poles, cut from small ancient woodlands in the Weald, are cleaved (split) into rustic stakes and then wired together to form 5 yard lengths of fencing. When erected they create effective barriers that retain a rustic look in the natural landscape.
Buying chestnut products has the additional ecological benefit for the woodlands that supply the poles, ensuring they are cut on a rotational basis creating a structure of woodland habitats.
Honeysuckle is a native climbing plant that relies on other structures for support. It doesn’t survive well in the Park because it is vulnerable to the deer’s appetite. Where it grows on adjacent land and trails over the Park wall, additional honeysuckles are being planted and protected from deer. This should reinforce the dwindling populations of White Admiral butterflies that feed on honeysuckles and enjoy warmth that radiates from the brick walls around the edge of the Park on sunny days.
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.
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.
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 Plantation Garden Walks 2012
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
February: Friday 3rd & 24th, Sunday 12th
March: Friday 2nd & 30th, Sunday 11th
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.
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