March Park Diaries


PARK FENCING. The park has, since its enclosure, contained herds of deer that browse all woody vegetation. This means that if trees are planted they need to be protected. Individual trees are protected with 3 or 4 sided wooden guards, whilst small group plantings and woodlands are protected with a fence. Our trees are routinely assessed for safety and if required we conduct work to reduce the likelihood of them failing. Occasionally we are limited in the amount of work we can do, and the most practicable solution is to fence a tree off to exclude people from the tree. We may also fence to protect tree roots from soil compaction in heavily walked locations. Fences are also installed if we need to establish new vegetation following ground works. A few of the parks ponds have been fenced following de-silting works and are kept in place to allow invertebrates a chance to re-colonise the clear, un-disturbed waters that can only occur if dogs are excluded.


TOAD IN THE ROAD! March is the time of year that the Royal Parks like to remind road users of the toads, frogs and newts presence. As the weather becomes milder and wetter these amphibians come of hibernation and migrate to their traditional spawning grounds in the parks ponds, ditches and lakes. If it so happens that the park suddenly turns wet and mild after a long dry cold spell then we can experience one or two nights of exceptional activity on the park roads with many amphibians all over the tarmac. They often look like leaves or a stick and are of course vulnerable to being squashed. The vehicle gates are closed to motor traffic at night but cyclists are asked to keep an eye out.

PEN PONDS CAR PARK WORKS. During March contractors working on behalf of the Royal Parks are due to undertake works at Pen Ponds Car Park. They are primarily improving the areas surrounding the car park to improve access and the general landscape. At present the car park is appreciated by wheel chair users, because its location gives good access onto the roads that are closed to motor vehicles. Unfortunately the paths that link the car park to the roads are uneven, have steps curbs, tree roots and suffer from seasonal flooding. These issues are due to be addressed and we will install better benches and a car free accessible area for visitors to gather before venturing out into the park.

PEN PONDS PLANTATION. For a number of years the plantation been cleared of Rhododendron ponticum by the Friends of Richmond Park volunteers. The clearance has revealed just how dilapidated the perimeter fence is and this March the exposed stretch of fence is due to be replaced by contractors. Inside the fence the volunteers will continue to plant Blackthorn and Hawthorn as a boundary screen that will provides blossom and berries for the benefit of our many insects and birds. 


Isabella Plantation in March

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

Walks will take place on:

March: Friday 4th & 25th and Sunday 13th
April: Friday 1st & 29th and Sunday 17th

Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge.
Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m. 

HEATHER GARDEN. Here Erica x darleyensis ranges throughout in its pink and white varieties. Erica erigena forms taller dense mounds and is represented by "W.T. Rackliff" which is white, and "Brightness" which has rose purple flowers and bronze leaves. Set back towards the top of the Heather Garden is Erica lusitanica, tallest of all, with white flowers opening from pink buds. Erica carnea ‘Myretoun Ruby’ has recently been planted near the Swamp Cyprus its deep reddish pink flowers brighten this spot from January to May.

CAMELLIAS. Following the path which runs through woodland up the western side of the Garden you will find two of the many famous williamsii hybrid camellias: Camellia 'Donation', and C. 'Inspiration' near the ancient pollard oak. Nearby, the formal double white flowers, striped with red and pink, belong to Camellia japonica 'Lavinnia Maggi'. Camellias frequently produce 'sports', and you may find white, red and striped flowers all on the same plant. Camellia japonica ‘Preston Rose’ also grows in this area and bears salmon- pink paeony form flowers. Camellia ‘Parkside’ another williamsii hybrid bearing an abundance of large clear pink semi double flowers grows in Magnolia grandiflora Glade set back from Thomson’s Lawn. Another garden favourite, Camellia Japonica ‘Alba Simplex’ shows large white flowers with conspicuous yellow stamens and grows in many spots around the garden, including set back at the top of the main stream path.


THREE WILSON PLANTS. Rhododendron lutescens, is an early-flowering rhododendron species from China, small leaves and primrose yellow blooms. Many of these plants grow set back to the east of the Main Stream. More, younger plants grow near the fence in Wilson’s Glade. Wilson’s Glade is situated to the north of the entrance gate from Broomfield Hill car park. It houses a collection of plants introduced to this country by the famous plant collector, Ernest Wilson. Also near the fence of the glade is a group of Stachyurus chinensis, a shrub with long drooping racemes of soft yellow flowers. Close to the main path through the glade is Corylopsis veitchiana, a large erect growing shrub that also bears its flowers in large racemes of primrose yellow with conspicuous brick red anthers.

MAGNOLIAS. During March several magnolias come into flower. A fine Magnolia stellata stands near the path above Thomson's Pond. Many others are planted throughout the Garden, particularly in woodland areas on the western side. Two young Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ can be found growing in Bluebell Walk opposite Acer Glade. This large shrub or small tree bears lilac-pink flowers that are deeper in bud. A more mature form can be found growing on the other side of Acer Glade by the Scots Pine.

NARCISSI. Growing on the wet lawn near the gate from Broomfield Hill car park, the dwarf Narcissus cyclamineus, native of Spain and Portugal, has pendent golden flowers with narrow trumpets and upward sweeping petals, reminiscent of a cyclamen bloom. Soon to follow on this lawn will be N. bulbocodium, commonly known as the ‘hooped petticoat’, due to its widely flared trumpet.


OTHER PLANTS OF INTEREST. The “Fuji Cherry”, Prunus incisa, grows set back behind the Witch Hazel’s on the path leading from the Broomfield Hill gate leading to the lawn above Thomson’s Pond. This lovely Japanese species bears small white flowers, which are pink-tinged in bud and appear pink from a distance. Clematis armandii, an evergreen Clematis with creamy white flowers grows up a dead tree in Beech Bay, the area between Thomson’s Pond and the Main Stream. Rhododendron sutchuense stands above the Still Pond, this outstanding Chinese shrub bears a profusion of large bell-shaped flowers which are a rosy-lilac in colour with purple spots. This Rhododendron is another Ernest Wilson introduction.
In the ‘V ‘ between the streams area look out for two stunning Rhododendrons grown for both their stunning flowers and bark; Rhododendron shilsonii which has loose trusses of bell shaped blood-red flowers and Rhododendron hylaeum with its pale pink flowers. R.calophytum ‘Robin Hood’ grows above these two rhododendrons, set back off the main stream path and bears large trusses of pale pink bell-shaped flowers with a maroon basal blotch.