March Park News
  • Photo: Some of the litter volunteers at the Richmond Park Spring Clean, by Paula Redmond


Ballot for tickets to Richmond Park film launch All members of the Friends are invited to apply for tickets to the formal launch of the Friends’ film about Richmond Park, presented by Sir David Attenborough. The launch will be on Tuesday April 25, 2017 from 11.00am to 12.30pm at the Royal Geographical Society, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AR. Entry will be by ticket/invitation only. In addition to the screening of the 20 minute film, Sir David and Loyd Grossman, the new Chairman of The Royal Parks, will speak and there will be a Q&A about the making of the film. We have up to 100 places for Friends’ members. Individual members may apply for 1 ticket per household and society members for 2 tickets.

To apply, please email with your name, physical address (needed to identify you correctly on our membership list) and the number of tickets you want by 20 March. You will be notified within 10 days whether you have been successful or not. Please note that there is no need to apply if: a) you have already received an e-mail notifying you that you are invited, unless you have a household membership and want a second ticket or b) you have already applied via the form included with the printed Spring newsletter that was sent out this week.

St Paul’s view success. We are delighted that the efforts of the Friends of Richmond Park in lobbying the Mayor to take action to protect London's historic views from new high rise developments, in particular the view of St Paul's from Richmond Park, have been successful. The Mayor has since revealed he is planning to revise and potentially extend the London View Management Framework (LVMF) in his upcoming London Plan and urged all councils to take additional care when considering high-rise developments. The new policy is already having an effect, as the Architects' Journal reports on the proposed reduction of two planned high-rise buildings that the Friends identified as the next in line to be built at Stratford in the sightline of the protected St Paul’s view.
A big thank you to all of you who worked for and supported the campaign – writing letters/e-mails, coming to the protest gathering and signing the petition (which got over 9, 300 signatures). Your efforts have changed the law. THANK YOU
See the Architects' Journal article detailing the first high rise development redesign to protect the St Paul's view.

Richmond Park Spring Clean. On Sunday 5 March 80 FRP volunteers gave the Park a thorough pre-season Spring Clean. Seven teams each scoured a different area of the Park and collected a surprisingly large haul of litter. We did not weigh it but, with a total of 90 bags at an average of 10kg each, we estimate we removed close to one tonne of litter. A hard but enjoyable afternoon’s work by all on a blustery and, at times, wet day. Richmond Park has now had its first total Spring Clean. Massive thanks to all the volunteers for their hard work, to The Royal Parks for their support, and to Daniel Hearsum's Pembroke Lodge for the welcome refreshments afterwards. Supported by contract cleaning staff from The Royal Parks, and coinciding with Keep Britain Tidy’s national 'Great British Spring Clean' weekend, this may well become an annual event. See photos

Photos wanted for 2018 Calendar. We are now inviting photos of Richmond Park for the Friends’ 2018 Calendar. Please click here for details of how and where to send them – deadline 13 April. We look forward to seeing your amazing images – this year we have increased the maximum number of photos that each photographer can send in – it’s now up to 8 photos, but not more than 4 from any one season: winter, spring, summer, autumn. Last year’s calendar was a great success and raised a substantial amount of money for projects in the Park.

Dawn Chorus walk. This year’s Dawn Chorus walk is on Easter Bank Holiday Monday, 17 April – meet at Sheen Gate at 5am

Update on Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Census. Thanks to everyone who took part in the search for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers last month. Unfortunately nothing was reported as seen or heard, but they are definitely in the Park. One was seen as recently as 30 December and one was heard on 2 January. (Nigel Jackman).

Trustee changes. Peter Burrows-Smith is stepping down as a Trustee and Vice-Chairman after 12+ years. He has made an enormous contribution to the Friends for which we are very grateful. Mary Davies and Vivienne Press will be proposed as new Trustees at the AGM in April. Mary is responsible for running the Visitor Centre and Vivienne edits the printed Newsletter and produces the Friends’ Calendar.

New Major Event – 10 mile run. TRP have a new event for the third Major Event slot previously concessioned to Human Race in September. The new event is a 10 mile run on Sunday 4 June, with a capacity of 10,000 runners (though 3-6,000 expected this year) and a children’s fun run for 1,000. The route is around the peripheral road with the Park closed to traffic. The event village is on the rugby pitches, with participants and local residents invited to bring their picnics and activities provided. We have met the organisers who are good citizens and sensitive to the Park. We have two concerns – the opening up of an area only used previously for the ‘one-off’ Queen’s visit (but good for other events) and its proximity to Crown Field and skylarks. We will be closely monitoring the event.

Events Calendar

1 Apr    Sheen Gate car park (+ Walk the Wall option)
17 Apr  Dawn Chorus Walk (Sheen Gate 5am)
29 Apr  Spring Bird Count (8am start, details to follow)
6 May   Broomfield Hill car park
20 May Centenary walk with London Geodiversity Partnership in collaboration with Friends of Richmond Park and the London Natural History Society (10.30 Norbiton Station or 10.45 Kingston Gate car park)
03 Jun  Pen Ponds Car Park

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

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

18 Mar  Spring birds and birdsong (Peter Burrows-Smith)
13 May  Wildlife Photography (Russell Ritchin)

Friends’ members only – no need to book – just turn up. Courses start 10.00am at Pembroke Lodge.

Richmond Park Diary – March 2017

Road works. Contractors are on site and have started work to improve the condition of the cycle only route between Ham Cross and Pen Ponds Car Park. They are also due to install 3 raised crossing points. At Ham Gate the road will be closed from Monday to Friday 13-17 March. 2-way traffic lights will be installed at Ham Cross later in March and traffic lights will also be installed at Sheen Cross during the final phase of works. The Royal Parks apologise for any inconvenience. This work is part of Transport for London’s ‘Quietways’ project.

Volunteering. Many people volunteer in Richmond Park, helping to maintain the Park and providing a service to the community. The Royal Parks employs a relatively small number of people and generally works with contactors, concessions and partner organisations – and the same is true for volunteering opportunities. The Holly Lodge Centre deliver an educational service with a particular emphasis on special needs education, and their volunteers also organise fund raising events and manage the facilities at the centre. The Friends of Richmond Park holds practical conservation and horticulture groups, staffs the Information Centre, runs a walks and talks programme – and more! This year the conservation volunteers delivered 1,145 hours of rhododendron clearance and on 5 March this year 80 volunteers spent 4 hours litter picking the entire Park as part of the Great British tidy up co-ordinated by Keep Britain Tidy.

On-line survey. The Royal Parks are in the early stages of renewing the 10-year management plan for Richmond Park. A quick on-line survey has been set up, aimed at regular users and asks what is significance about the park that you value. The survey can be found here: – and will close of the 7 April.

Toad in the road! March is the time of year that the Royal Parks like to remind road users of the presence of toads, frogs and newts. As the weather becomes milder and wetter these amphibians come out 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.

Badgers. They are common in the park and occupy several setts in various places. Being nocturnal and shy they are difficult to see but it’s not uncommon to see one scurry away from the park roads or paths if disturbed very late at night. In March they become more active and their babies are born. Badgers will roll balls of dried grass and bedding into their setts at this time of year and they also mate immediately after the young are born. As with some deer, badgers can delay fertilisation or the development of babies for up to 9 months

The Isabella Plantation in March

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.

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 peony 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.

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 the Scots Pine

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.

Isabella Plantation Walks

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

The next walks will take place on:
Sun 12 & Fri 31 March

Guided walks last for about 1.5hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Car Park at 11.00am.