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 Chris Mason at [email protected]
November in the Park
Fallow deer rut A great deal of attention is given to the red deer rut – and for good reason!
However the other species of deer in the Park, the Fallow, also ruts and its behaviour is slightly different from the Red deer.
The dominant bucks will make a groaning noise and scent themselves just like the Reds, however they are more likely to form ‘leks’ rather than manage a harem of females. A harem is where the male gathers a group of females and then keeps them from wandering off; other males then challenge him in an attempt to win his harem.
The Fallow lek is where the males establish a place to parade to impress the females who are free to move around and go with the male of their choice. The most impressive part of the Fallow rut is where 2 closely matched male’s parade adjacent to each other. Here they will parallel walk with each other, back and forth as though a mirror image. Occasionally they will drop their heads and clash antlers at great speed and push against one another in an attempt to dominate.
The great storm on October 28th It wasn’t as devastating as the 1987 storm but the high winds on 28th caused plenty of tree damage in the Park. The overnight checks of the Park didn’t indicate too much debris on the roads but as dawn broke and additional gusts of wind hit the park it became apparent that limbs were still dropping from trees.
With over 100,000 trees in the Park it was unsafe for public access until the gusts had died down and an assessment of the damage could be made. Fortunately the winds did not continue into the day and the park was assessed and opened by 11am.
Around 100 trees have suffered some damage, half of these being quite serious. An additional 20 or so trees have been lost but thankfully only one veteran oak has been identified with catastrophic damage. There is virtually no damage to buildings or fences although two trees did block the Tamsin Trail. The storm reminds us that mild wet winters allow the trees to retain their leaves for longer and increase the ‘sail area’. Combined with wet soils and high winds there is an increased risk of problems.
Recognition for the Parks’ blacksmith The young artist blacksmith that made the St Paul’s Tercentenary Gates was awarded the Diploma of Merit by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths at their annual awards. This recognises the level of competence he has attained following the scrutiny of his work including the gates positioned on the vista to St Paul’s Cathedral.
In addition to the Diploma of Merit, he also made a sculpture of a stag beetle that serves as a boot-pull and this was presented to Her Majesty the Queen during her visit to the Park in 2012. A version of this ‘boot-pull’ was entered into the 2013 county shows and gained him more points than any other blacksmith. For this he was also awarded the National Champion Blacksmith Award for 2013. For images and more details see www.joshuadelisle.com.
The Isabella plantation in November
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 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 will begin machine clearing Rhododendron ponticum from the Plantation this month. This is all in an effort to slow the spread of scale insect and sooty mould and reduce the risk of possible future 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 two 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 2013
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
November Friday 1st and 29th, Sunday 17th
December Friday 6th, Sunday 15th
Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11am.