Information from the Royal Parks team in Richmond Park

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DEER: 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.

DEER CULL: 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 habitiat 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.

RETURN OF THE COWS: The grazing trial continues for its second year with the return of 3 cows. They are held in a 4 hectare (10 acre) paddock near Holly Lodge. Cattle eat grass in a different manner from deer and are used on many nature reserves to change subtly the grassland and benefit wild flowers. The trial is intended to run for an initial 5 years. If the cows prove to be beneficial for Richmond Park grassland the implication is to look at extending the area if logistics allow.

PRINCE CHARLES SPINNEY: This small enclosure on the south-east of the Park is of about 5 hectares (12 acres) and divided by a path. The fence, which has steadily deteriorated over the years, should exclude browsing deer and protect low-level vegetation. This winter we are intending to overhaul the fence and ensure it is deer proof once again. This will be followed by an annual programme of woodland reforestation at 1 hectare per year. Most of the trees are tall and slender, offering little cover for birds etc. and the non-native trees offer even less to the ecosystem as a non-desirable food source. Trees will be felled and allowed to re-grow as multi-stemmed coppice stools where appropriate. The woodland will be densely replanted with species that form low level cover such as Hazel and Elder. The initial effect will be stark but within a few years the woodland will grow back in a more complementary form. The overall effect should be dense low level foliage, supporting a better abundance of wildlife and ground flora.


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 neumatephores. 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.

Congratulations go to the Isabella gardening team for their success at the RHS Autumn Show held at the RHS Halls, Vincent Square. They won the Rosse Cup for an exhibit of conifers, together with 5 first prizes and 5 second prizes for various other exhibits.


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

  • November: Friday 7th, Sunday 9th and Friday 21st
  • December: Friday 5th,  Sunday 14th and Friday 19th

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 11:00am.

The Royal Parks' News and Isabella News are copyright The Royal Parks.