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

Richmond Park in January

Den building Richmond Park is protected for its dead wood habitats as it is one of the most important places in England for insects and other organisms that depend on decaying wood. Disturbing deadwood can be detrimental to this wildlife. The park is also a public open space, where families can spend quality time together and children experience the natural environment that they will hopefully care about when they become adults and parents themselves.

So, den building poses a dilemma which needs to be managed with the right balance between Park conservation and public use. Den building is discouraged because when dens become too large, numerous, attract litter or look as though they may fall down on a child, they are a safety concern. The Royal Parks do periodically remove dens and will either chip wood or secure it in a nearby enclosure. A certain amount of wood is left on the ground where it can support the deadwood species undisturbed.

Pembroke Lodge car park Works were largely completed before Christmas. Another section has been properly surfaced and an interceptor tank has been installed to prevent any pollutants that are washed off the car park from entering into the park ditches and ponds. The pedestrian area through the disabled parking appears to be working well.

Works will continue into January – planting the central reserves is largely complete and a couple of enclosures have been created on the opposite site of the road. These have three functions – they help to visually screen the car park, they offer some useful habitat to wildlife and they also help to steer pedestrians to cross at the raised crossing points.

Responsible dog walking All dog waste in the Park must be immediately collected in the Park, no matter where a dog goes. Leaving dog waste is antisocial, a health hazard and enriches what should be nutrient-poor grassland. During the autumn the Police issued two fixed penalty notices and several cautions to dog walkers that failed to collect after their dogs.

The Royal Parks also require that dogs are kept under effective control or on a lead and have a tag with a telephone number on their collars. This way, any dogs found wandering can be quickly reunited with their owners.

Grey squirrels They are particularly active in January as their courtship and mating is at its peak. There is a hierarchy amongst squirrels with older larger, males being dominant to younger males. Females are generally submissive to males unless they have litters when they will dominate an area when they need to feed.

In January, groups of up to 10 males can be seen chasing females in season. It is usually, but not always, the dominant male that mates and the young are born 44 days later. Older more experienced females may also have a second litter in the summer.

Isabella Plantation in January

A Happy New Year from the Plantation team!

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.

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.

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.

Flowering shrubs 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.

Isabella Plantation garden walks 2016

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.

Walks will take place on:

January Sunday 10th, Friday 29th

February Friday 5th & 26th, Sunday 7th

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.