January Park News

Photo: Sunrise at Pen Ponds by Bett Atherton


A Happy New Year to all our Friends! We wish you all the very best, and if you would like a reminder of our beautiful park throughout the whole year, don’t forget to get your Friends’ 2017 Calendar, featuring some of the best photos taken by your very own local photographers. Calendars are available at the Visitor Centre, priced £7.50. All proceeds go towards conservation projects in the Park.

St Paul’s view update. The Friends’ letter to the Mayor in November calling for action on the destroyed view of St Paul’s Cathedral received a lot of publicity. At Mayor’s Question Time on 14 December, in response to a question from Tony Arbour our local Assembly Member, the Mayor referred to the Friends’ letter and committed to extend the protected view to cover future developments at Stratford and beyond. He also promised to do the same for other protected views. See Mayor’s Question Time recording at 2hrs 52mins 30secs.
On the same day, the Friends held our Protest Gathering at King Henry’s Mound with 200 people in attendance and guest speaker Sarah Olney MP. The Architects Journal 15 December provides a concise summary of the situation to date. On 22 December the Friends’ sent a second letter to the Mayor requesting confirmation of his proposed actions and asking him to ensure that there are no further developments that might impinge on the view.

2017 Park Opening Hours. Click here. See also park road closures in Richmond Park Diary below.

In case you missed it! On 11 December our Chairman, Ron Crompton, featured in a BBC News report about the destruction of the St Paul’s view.

‘Stop destruction of historic St Paul’s view’. 8700 people have signed our online petition so far. If you have not yet signed, please sign here and encourage others to do so. Also, if you signed the paper petition at the Visitor Centre, could you please re-sign online – we cannot transfer your paper signature to the online site. We want to reach at least 10,000 signatures to pressure the Mayor to deliver on his commitment.

Litter Campaign. Richmond Park has over 5 million visitors a year and unfortunately not everyone bins their litter or takes it home. Despite the excellent job carried out by the Royal Parks’ full time litter pickers (with a little help from some of our Friends who regularly litter pick on their walks in the park), there is still substantial litter in certain areas. So the Friends are launching a campaign to improve the situation through volunteer litter picking and persuading visitors not to drop litter. You will hear more as we progress, but in the meantime if you can help on 5 March with our ‘Richmond Park Spring Clean’, please reply to bulletins@frp.org.uk . We need all the help we can get.

Beverley Brook video. See this excellent short ITV video on the restoration of Beverley Brook. Extensive work was carried out to restore the brook to a more wild-life friendly habitat and features Deputy Park Manager Adam Curtis showing some of the improvements.

Winter in Richmond Park – a poet’s prose by Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917). In this article, featured in last month's bulletin, we omitted to say that it was made available courtesy of Rachel Hirschler – apologies Rachel.


7 Jan Robin Hood Gate car park
4 Feb Roehampton gate car park
4 Mar Kingston Gate car park
1 Apr Sheen Gate car park (+ Walk the Wall option)

All are welcome to join our walks. Start 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise.

Informal birdwatching walks – on Fridays – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am.

21 Jan Introduction to birdwatching (Peter Burrows-Smith)
18 Mar Spring birds and birdsong (Peter Burrows-Smith)
Friends’ members only – no need to book, just turn up. Courses start 10.00am at Pembroke Lodge.

Richmond Park Diary – January 2017

Lichens. These are organisms formed by an algae living in symbiosis with a fungi and can be readily seen growing on many surfaces in Richmond Park including tree bark, stone structures and wooden posts etc. Where the right light and moisture conditions allow lichens can be quite abundant, but they are also very much affected by air pollution. As such, they are very good indicators of how polluted the air is. Their abundance can be much better in coastal areas of the UK than within towns and cities inland.
The Park has recently been surveyed for lichens and over 180 species were found – an increase from the 55 species found in 2001. Interestingly trees and structures that are new to the park since the mid 1980’s are showing greater numbers of lichens than older trees and structures. This is thought to be due to the reduction in acid rain, caused by lower levels of sulphur dioxide released from motor vehicles, power stations and factories. The historic levels of sulphur dioxide still affect the older trees whose bark will only support the more hardy species of lichen but it’s heartening to know that the environmental issues addressed in the 80’s have been successful.

Park road closures. In 2017 the park roads and vehicle gates will be closed to all vehicles including cyclists for major sporting events on the dates below. Pedestrian access is available and cycling is possible on the Tamsin Trail.

The dates are: –
Sunday 4th June Richmond Park 10 mile run
Sunday 30th July Ride London cycle ride
Sunday 17th September London Duathlon running and cycling event

Vehicle opening times. The Park’s vehicle gates are closed from dusk to dawn, to reduce the number of road traffic accidents involving deer that escalate in darkness. The times change with the daylight hours but also for the 40 minutes it takes for the locking team to close the gates before it is dark. 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 official closing time. If entering the Park with insufficient time, motorist can find their exit gate closed! Under such circumstances signs direct stranded motorists to the last gate to be locked (usually Richmond Gate) and stay in the Park to assist. If you are too late, you may end up being locked in all night! Opening times for 2017 can now be downloaded from The Royal Parks Website.

Loo of the year award. Richmond Park has recently won the highly prestigious ‘Loo of the Year’ award at a ceremony held in early December. The new ‘off-grid’ toilets at the Isabella Plantation won the award for the best eco-friendly toilet. The toilets are water free (with ventilation to extract any odours), heated from logs and the very low electricity requirements are met from a small generator. The building is also wooden with wooden shingles (roof tiles) to blend into the landscape.

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.

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.

Sacred Bamboo, Nandina domestica

The Isabella Plantation Team wishes you a Happy New Year!
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