The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (November 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 [email protected]
The Park in November
Sidmouth Woods The next phase of Rhododendron ponticum clearance will take place in Sidmouth Woods this winter. Clearing the rhododendron allows native trees and shrubs to re-establish which in time will provide the woodland with a fantastic varied habitat for native flora and fauna to thrive. The cuttings will be burnt and you may see or smell the smoke on occasions.
Autumn colours There is much debate about the influences of weather, genetics and day length on the intensity of leaf colour in autumn. We’re hoping that the wet and warmer weather that we have been experiencing lately combined with the naturally shorter days and lower temperatures over night will deliver a spectacular autumn this year. Look out for the large red oak between Sheen car park and Two Storm Wood and the sugar maples on the hill behind Gallow’s Pond. Not to mention, the native hornbeam, beech and field maples scattered whereever you go around the Park!
Autumn tree planting programme A mixture of native trees will be planted this autumn, with a special focus of planting a wider variety of native trees, to ensure that the tree population of the Park is best prepared to survive the inevitable eventuality of exotic tree pests and climate change. The new trees will be planted in specially prepared pits using compost created at the Park to provide the perfect growing environment. Also, for the first time, the ground around the newly planted trees will be treated to a covering of wood chip mulch, which, according to research will increase the fine root activity in the top 15cm of soil by 400 per cent!
Deer With no predators and 200 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Park's carrying capacity without human intervention. To prevent starvation and malnutrition, the deer are selectively culled during November and February. This ensures a healthy herd of 650 with the correct balance of ages and sexes. The high point of the rut is now over and the lean bellies and hindquarters of the exhausted stags bear witness to the recent deprivation of food. They regain condition by feasting on sweet chestnuts, horse chestnuts and beech mast, building up winter fat reserves. Removing chestnuts deprives the deer of essential food. PLEASE LEAVE THE CHESTNUTS FOR THE DEER.
Mushrooms and toadstools In the autumn many types of wild mushrooms and toadstools enrich the Park's grassland and ancient trees. The underground 'mycelium' of these fruiting or spore-bearing bodies is otherwise hidden all year. Removal of the mushrooms and toadstools is illegal as it affects reproduction and removes food for dependant wildlife. Some rare insect species depend entirely on a particular type of mushroom.
November in the Isabella Plantation
Shrubs which flower this month Camellia sasanqua ‘Rubra’ has small single red fragrant flowers and grows in the ‘V’ shaped section of the Garden formed by the convergence of the Main Stream and the Small Stream which derives from the Still Pond. Growing next to this shrub is Camellia sasanqua ‘Maidens Blush’ which bears similar flowers that are pale pink in colour. Look out for more C.sasanqua’s growing in other areas of the Plantation.
Autumn colour and fruits Acers throughout the gardens assume a variety of autumn tints.
Nyssa sylvatica, the “Tupelo tree”, growing on the bank of Thomson’s Pond, turns to shades of rich scarlet, orange and red in the autumn.
Liquidamber styraciflua stands set back from Thomson’s Lawn; this tree was selected for its reliable autumn colour. At this time of year leaves take on shades of rich black, crimson and red.
Taxodium distichum, the “Swamp Cypress”, grows by the side of Peg’s Pond and also on the bank of Thomson’s Pond. This deciduous conifer colours bronze in the autumn. When grown by water, larger specimens produce ‘knee-like’ growths called pneumatophores. These growths come from the roots and project above ground to enable the uptake of vital gasses in waterlogged, anaerobic soils.
Metasequoia glyptostroboides, the “Dawn Redwood”, is another deciduous conifer and can be seen growing on Thomson’s Lawn. Its leaves colour russet before dropping.
Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ grows along the Small Stream from the Still Pond. This shrub bears striking purple berries on bare stems.
Euonymus myrianthus can be found growing in Wilson’s Glade, this evergreen shrub bears stunning orange-yellow fruits that split to reveal orange-scarlet seeds.
Arbutus unedo, the “Strawberry Tree”, can be found growing above Thomson’s Pond as well as other locations around the gardens. Red strawberry-like fruits are produced at the same time as white small bell-shaped flowers.
The heather garden Forms of Erica x darleyensis and Erica carnea flower throughout the winter. Also look out for Erica lusitanica, the “Portugese Heath”, a type of tree heath whose stems are crowded with white tubular fragrant flowers that are pink in bud.
Nandina domestica, the “Sacred Bamboo”, is planted at the top end of this garden. This evergreen shrub has purplish-red tint to the young leaves and a bears a profusion of red spherical berries at this time of year.
The bog garden The leaves on two stands of Gunnera manicata, the “Giant Rhubarb”, have been cut down and placed over a layer of cut bracken covering the plants crown to protect the plant from the elements during the cold winter months.
Contractors have been busy machine clearing Rhododendron ponticum from the Plantation in an effort to slow the spread of scale insect and sooty mould and reduce the risk of possible infection by fungal pathogens such as Phytophthora’s. Removal of this invasive evergreen shrub will improve airflow and reduce humidity creating healthier conditions within the Plantation. Machine clearance will happen over the next three years during the autumn and winter months and will remove 70 per cent of the Plantation’s R.ponticum cover. Space created by clearance will allow a mix of new planting which will include mainly deciduous native and exotic trees and shrubs as well as the creation of new glades, rides and open areas within the Plantation.
Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2012
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
November Sunday 11th, Friday 30th
December Friday 7th, 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