The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (January 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 [email protected]
January in Richmond Park
Danns Pond The pond is contained within a small woodland enclosure in the south of the Park. It forms the start of a ditch that eventually flows through the three Ham ponds before flowing into the Sudbrook.
Whilst Danns Pond holds water all year, it is at the source of the watercourse, so levels can get low in dry summers. To help retain water, silt was removed a few years ago from half the pond. This winter we will be felling trees and scrub around the pond to increase light levels. This will allow access for further silt removal and help to reduce leaf litter silting up the Pond.
Animal tracks are fun to look for during the winter when the mud and, if we’re lucky, snow reveal their foot prints more readily than the summer months.
Deer footprints are abundant in the park and recognisable as two slots, the larger ones being Red deer and smaller ones Fallow deer. Dog and fox paw prints are difficult to distinguish, but the size of the print may give an indication. Foxes also place their back paws onto the same spot as their front paws – so it looks like a single line of prints. Dogs tend to be placed a bit more randomly.
If you are really keen eyed you might spot a badgers print. Unlike dogs and foxes they do not have a ‘dew claw’ a little way up the leg. Instead they have a fifth claw in much the same way as humans have thumbs. This gives them wider hands – so much better for digging. So always look carefully at fox/dog prints and count the claws, as it may just be a badger.
Vehicle opening times The Park’s vehicle gates are closed from dusk to dawn, essentially to reduce the high number of road traffic accidents involving deer that escalate in darkness. The times obviously change with the daylight hours but also allow enough time for the locking team to close the gates before it is dark – which takes about 40 minutes.
To avoid being locked in or delayed, motorists are advised to observe the closing time displayed at the gates when entering the Park and travel at the speed limit to exit before the official closing time. If entering the Park with insufficient time, motorist can find their exit gate closed! Under such circumstances the locking team direct stranded motorists to the last gate to be locked and stay in the Park to assist.
Occasionally someone enjoys a visit to the Park so much that they stay late and get locked in, even after the locking team have left. Under such circumstances signs at the park gates explain what to do. Opening times for 2015 can now be downloaded from The Royal Parks Website [or the Friends' website].
Isabella Plantation in January
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 Var. 'Flaviramea', grows nearby under the weeping willow, and in the Bog Garden.
Red-stemmed dogwood, Cornus alba ‘Siberica’, is set back behind the heathers, 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.
The “Sacred Bamboo’, Nandina domestica, 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. Another hybrid variety, called ‘Jelena’, has ginger coloured flowers and grows in the woodland ride to the west of the garden.
Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ grows close to the Top gate and also set back in the glade behind Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’. It produces semi-double, white flowers intermittently throughout the winter months.
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', also beside the Acer Glade path, has small rose-purple flowers.
The Isabella Plantation Team wishes you a Happy New Year
Isabella Garden Walks 2014
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
January: Friday 30th, Sunday 11th
February: Friday 6th and 27th, Sunday 8th
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.