The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (July 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]
The Park in July
Grass snakes are present in the Park and, although a population estimate has not been conducted, juveniles are seen regularly and they therefore breed well.
Like all reptiles they are ‘cold blooded’ which means they cannot regulate their own body temperature. They rely on high daytime temperatures and radiated warmth to be active and can be found basking in the sun on dark surfaces. They are incredibly shy and sense vibrations from anyone approaching, quickly disappearing into nearby cover before being sighted.
They are associated with water and can occasionally be seen swimming or lurking in ponds. They feed predominantly on live amphibians such as frogs but may occasionally eat worms, fish and small mammals.
A new and improved bridge on the Tamsin Trail The pedestrian and cycling bridge that crosses the Beverley Brook near Roehampton Gate has been replaced. The old bridge had started to become tired and it was frustratingly too narrow to allow users to pass freely at peak times.
The wider replacement bridge is also just a little higher to allow water at the very highest peak to pass underneath. Rails at either side of the bridge require cyclists to slow and therefore ensure they pass pedestrians safely. It has been constructed out of green oak to ensure it is in keeping with the natural setting of the Park.
Park road closure – 10 August The Ride London cycling event will again pass through the Park this year, necessitating road closures for a full day. In the morning several thousand amateur cyclists will pass through the Park from Sheen Gate, via Richmond Gate and exiting at Kingston Gate.
In the afternoon the professional cyclists will follow the same route. The former World Champion and 25 times Tour de France stage winner Mark Cavendish is due to participate in this event. Richmond Park is a great place to spectate but it is not possible to park cars or cycle on the route if not taking part. Dogs must be kept on a lead. The Park is also much quieter than most summer weekends so relaxing walks can be enjoyed away from the road side.
Lost, stray and abandoned dogs The Royal Parks recommend that all dogs in the Park have a tag as well as a microchip and 3rd party insurance. Lost dogs are usually found fairly quickly by their owners, or other members of the public who are able to call the number on the tag and return the dog.
However, when there is no tag the Royal Parks are usually contacted. Around 50 such cases get reported to the Park office and almost always because the dog does not have a tag displaying the owner’s telephone number. Sometimes they are picked up from the Park roads where they are a hazard to vehicles and themselves. Only rarely are they genuinely abandoned.
A micro chip proves ownership of a dog but does not help to return a dog quickly. The chip needs to be read with a scanner and only dog wardens can match the code with the owner database. Without a tag the reuniting process usually takes several hours or even days and can result in the dog being kennelled outside normal working hours, which is charged to the owner. It’s far cheaper and simpler to always ensure your dog has a tag and worth keeping spares for when it needs replacing.
The Isabella Plantation in July
Flowering trees and shrubs
Large, late flowering rhododendrons can be found in the south section of the garden, between the stream from the Still Pond and the main central stream. They have pink and white fragrant flowers and include many hybrids of Rhododendron auriculatum.
Many rhododendrons are now producing handsome new leaves. These are often covered with a soft felt layer, which is white or ginger, and known as ‘indumentum’.
In the secluded lawn to the south of Thomson’s Pond the first giant flowers of the Magnolia grandiflora are set amongst glossy evergreen leaves. They have thick fleshy cream petals and a delicious citrus scent.
Clethra barbinervis with its long racemes of white fragrant flowers can be found on the path leading from the Top Gate leading down towards Bluebell Walk, near the entrance to Wilson’s Glade.
Heather Garden Look out for the “Button Bush”, Cephalanthus occidentalis, set back from the path leading to the Bog Garden. This shrub bears creamy-white flowers in small globular heads, which are very attractive to butterflies.
Bog garden In the Bog Garden the tall yellow spires of Ligularia przewalskii are set against a backdrop of bamboo, and the Gunnera manicata spreads its giant prickly leaves. Here, and by the streams, many varieties of Hemerocallis, the ‘Day Lily,’ flower amongst iris. Bell-shaped, fragrant, yellow of the “Giant Cowslip”, Primula florindae show in the marginal bed alongside the decked walkway.
The wild flowers of ‘Purple Loosestrife’ and the frothy white blossoms of ‘Meadowsweet’ grow alongside more exotic plantings. Look out for butterflies visiting the Joe Pye weeds (Eupatorium purpureum) with its stately pinkish purple flowers. Water lilies open on Thomson’s Pond, where dragonflies and damselflies hover and dart over the water on warm still days. Just off the central path look out for the soft pink flowers of the ground cover plant Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’.
The birthday mound Hydrangea quercifolia with its large oak shaped leaves and abundance of frothy white flowers heads can be found putting on an impressive show on the banking surrounding the Red Oak stump.
Foxglove tree glade Hydrangea aspera flowers in the glade set back from the Still Pond. This magnificent large-leafed shrub produces large heads of porcelain blue flowers, with a ring of lilac-pink or white ray florets.
Azalea feeding Streamside Azaleas are fed with an organically approved seaweed-based feed after flowering to encourage vigour, disease resistance and flower production the following spring.
Lawn creation The gardeners will be busy towards the end of this month preparing ground and sowing grass seed in areas of the Plantation where Rhododendron ponticum has been removed before carrying out new planting through the autumn and winter months.
Wheelchair available A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9am and 3pm. Please ring 0300 061 2200 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.
Walks in the Isabella Plantation
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
July: Friday 4th and 25th, Sunday 13th
August: Friday 1st and 29th, Sunday 10th
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.