The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (November issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public notice boards. 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@example.com
The Park in November
Gibbet Wood A Gibbet was a simple wood structure from which a cage was suspended to hold the body of an executed criminal. Gibbeting bodies set an example to others that a particular criminal activity was not tolerated. The crime had to be quite serious and be potentially tempting for others to follow. It was generally reserved for traitors, pirates and highway men. The route that is now the A3 was the major route from London to Portsmouth used by stage coaches and other travellers.
Stag Lodge stables were originally stables serving this busy transport route and the Park gate, former pub, roundabout and school in this area are all named after Robin Hood – giving reference to the activities of highway men! It is therefore reasonable to speculate that Gibbet Wood did have a gibbet nearby. It is positioned at the top of steep hill that could have easily been seen from the general Robin Hood area as an example to anyone who considered criminal activities on the highway.
Veteran tree protection The line of veteran trees at the rear of Holly Lodge is c.700 year old and need some extra special care. The path that runs adjacent to the trees has become compacted making it difficult for the tree roots to penetrate.
A cleft sweet chestnut fence has been installed to protect the roots and interestingly the fencing contractor reported that on the compacted side he found no major tree roots whilst on the other side he found quite a few. The fence has been made from timber harvested from ancient woodlands in the south east of England and it a typical and traditional countryside feature to south Surrey and Sussex in particular.
Deer cull With no predators and 200 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Parks carrying capacity without human intervention. To prevent starvation and habitat destruction, the deer are selectively culled during November and again in February. This ensures a healthy herd of 650 with the correct balance of ages and sexes.
Toilet charges The Royal Parks have faced substantial financial cuts from central Government. It currently costs around £1.5m a year to operate 27 toilet blocks across our estate which is 10% of our entire Government grant. This level of subsidy is no longer possible and we have opted to introduce a 20p charge in 2015 rather than toilet closures.
Children’s toilets in playgrounds, accessible toilets (with a key) and toilets in park cafes are not included in these plans. Advance notices will be given before charging is introduced – which for Richmond Park will be at Richmond, Sheen, Robin Hood, Kingston and Ham Gates.
Oak bush crickets are common in parks, woods and gardens and our only truly arboreal species of grasshopper or cricket. The nymphs hatch in June and spend their nocturnal lives high in the canopy of oak trees making them hard to see. The females will come down lower in the tree in autumn looking for somewhere suitable to lay eggs and its then that may be found lower down on the trunk or on the ground nearby if dislodged by autumn winds.
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’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 plant's crown to protect the plant from the elements during the cold winter months.
Walks in the Isabella Plantation
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
November Friday 28th, Sunday 9th
December Friday 5th , Sunday 14th
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.