The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (May issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public noticeboards.
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 Roy Berriman at

May in the Park

Oak processionary moth May is the time of year when the caterpillars of this invasive Moth are on the move. The hairs of the caterpillars carry a toxin which can be a significant threat to human health, causing skin rashes, eye irritation and respiratory problems.

In early May pesticide spraying will take place in busy areas and those where the oaks have been previously heavily infested. This will be followed by careful surveying of the whole park in June and July to locate nests which are then removed by specialist operatives using protective clothing and equipment.

If you come across the caterpillars or their webbed nests please do not touch them and keep children and pets away. Report any sightings to the Park office on 0300 061 2200.

A new ditch and pond have been built between Martin's Pond and Robin Hood gate. The land adjacent to the Pen Ponds approach road was suffering with flooding issues. The old clay drainage pipe buried deep in the verge had suffered from two or three blockages which were flooding areas that needed to be dry and drying areas that could provide wetland habitats!

Once the route of the drainage system was unearthed, a new ditch could be dug and the old ditch de-commissioned. A new sluice out of Martins Pond and a new pipe under the bridleway have both been installed. The ditch is working as it should be now and a new pond has been dug to help drain the surrounding area, providing valuable habitat enhancement.

Horse riders club together In the past few years nearly 2.5 kilometres of horse rides have been restored, with much of the funding coming from two private individuals. The horse riding community are so pleased with the new rides that they have all agreed to make annual donations to continue the restoration of badly eroded horse rides.

Previously the tracks were so worn that any rain would simply flow down the bridleway adding to the erosion and making them impassable in winter. Now they have been raised and re surfaced so that they can shed water, keeping the new riding surface from being washed away. The Royal Parks have undergone a 50 per cent cut in government funding over the past five years and would struggle to fund the total cost of the work.

The secret heroes of Richmond Park There are ten public toilets in the Park which have recently undergone much needed redecoration. Perhaps taken for granted, a team of two cleaners start work at 5am, seven days a week to keep these clean and fit for purpose. The Royal Parks rarely receive any complaints about the cleanliness of the toilets thanks to the hard work and diligence of these valued contractors.

Isabella Plantation in May

The peak flowering season for rhododendrons and azaleas

Rhododendrons On the lawn above Thomson’s Pond are two beds planted with the Japanese species, Rhododendron yakushimanum, amongst a group of its hybrids named after the Seven Dwarfs: Sneezy, Grumpy etc. These plants are compact and very floriferous.

Also, seek out the tall ‘Loderi’ hybrid ‘King George’, with its large soft pink flowers which are sweetly fragrant. It grows in a number places in the Garden but most notably set back above the Still Pond. Follow the Small Stream down from the Still Pond to discover Rhododendron williamsiananum, a compact species with attractive bronze young shoots, distinctive heart shaped leaves and bell-shaped, shell-pink flowers. Look out for Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ growing in a number of areas in the garden, this shrub produces compact trusses of rich crimson funnel shaped flowers with maroon spots.

Evergreen azaleas Easy to identify are:
‘Orange Beauty’, the most orange of all
‘Rosebud’, opening buds resemble tiny roses
‘Vuyk’s Scarlet’, large flowers of a deep silky red
‘Kirin’ a pale pink “hose in hose” (flower within an flower)
‘Amoena’, small bright magenta flowers ‘Palestrina’, white with a faint ray of green
‘Hinode Giri’, bright crimson, around the Still Pond

Deciduous azaleas These flower slightly later and often have a rich spicy smell, particularly Azalea pontica, (Rhododendron luteum), which is yellow and to be found by the gate to Broomfield Hill.

The bog garden Look out for Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, growing in the bed by the middle pond. It bears orange-red flowers and has a reddish tinge to the emerging young shoots. Alongside the margins of pools and streams grows the “Japanese Primrose”, Primula japonica ‘Millers Crimson’ with its whorls of crimson flowers which are borne in profusion on tall stems, from May to July.

Also present are the young fronds of the “Shuttlecock Fern”, Matteuccia struthiopteris, which show an attractive fresh green. Growing either side of the main pool is the “Ornamental Rhubarb”, Rheum Palmatum a robust herbaceous perennial with broad, architectural foliage and pink flowers on large erect panicles.

The native tree the “Whitebeam”, Sorbus aria, grows near the Broomfield Hill gate and looks particularly attractive at this time of the year with its silvery- white young leaves. Skimmia japonica can also be found growing near this gate along the path that leads onto Camellia Walk and the Still Pond
The “Foxglove Tree”, Paulownia tomentosa stands in the glade between the Still Pond and Old Nursery Glade. This large leaved tree bares sprays of fragrant foxglove-like pinkish-lilac flowers in Spring.
The “Pocket Handkerchief Tree”, Davidia involucrata, set back from the Camellia Walk, has intriguing white hanging bracts. Another specimen may be found in a secluded lawn to the southeast of Thomson’s Pond.
The “Snowdrop Tree”, Halesia carolina, with dangling white bell flowers, stands by the path above Thomson’s Pond.
Cornus nuttallii, whose white bracts appear like flowers, can be found set back in the newly planted Magnolia Glade near the Ham Gate entrance. Also look out for the pale lemon yellow fragrant flowers of Magnolia wilsonii ‘Yellow Fever’ and the wonderful deep purple flowers of Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’. Bluebells carpet the wilder fringes of the Garden. PLEASE KEEP TO THE PATHS TO AVOID TRAMPLING THEM.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2013

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:

May Friday 31st, Sunday 12th
June Friday 7th and 28th, Sunday 16th

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.

©The Royal Parks.