Information from the Royal Parks team in Richmond Park

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Prince Charles Spinney. Restoration work to has begun again for the second of approximately 5 years.  The southern half is being re-fenced to protect the trees from deer.  1/5th of the woodland is being heavily 'thinned' because most of the trees are tall and slender, offering little cover for birds etc and the high percentage of non-native trees offer even less to the ecosystem.   Trees will be felled and allowed to re-grow as multi stemmed coppice stools where appropriate.  In the new-year the woodland will be densely re-planted 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 complimentary form. The overall effect should be dense low level foliage, supporting a better abundance of wildlife and ground flora.

Forte – An Obituary. It is with great sadness that we report the loss of one of the Parks shire horses.  Forte came to the Park in 2001 from Young's Brewery.  He was occasionally a bit naughty but when saddled with responsibility he rose to the challenge and had a calming effect on his workmate Jed.  His small hooves and a chestnut-coloured summer coat meant he didn't fit the fashion for show horses but his work ethic and tolerance made him perfect for working life.  In his career he appeared on television and radio and met celebrities and the royal family as well as performing countless hours of labour in the Parks. He retired from heavy duties this spring but still attended events until autumn.  Forte was in his early 20's and had been suffering with arthritis for the past few years.  Recently he developed a swelling that related to liver problems.  His discomfort led to a tired look in his eyes and so he was put to rest before he became critical.  Forte is mourned by his inseparable friend Jed and the Park's younger horses 'Billy' and Massey.

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

Sidmouth Woods Boundary. For almost a year now, the London probation service has been busy removing Rhododendron ponticum from the boundary of Sidmouth woods – no small task as the entire boundary is almost one and half miles long!.  Rhododendron is an exceptionally invasive plant – it grows roots when branches touch the ground and takes over the entire woodland excluding all other trees and shrubs. Once it has been removed, stumps will be dug out (or cut and treated when inaccessible) to ensure it doesn't grow back.  The boundary will then be re-planted with native shrubs suitable for a boundary screen – such as Privet, Holly, Blackthorn and Hawthorn.  The work has been support by grant aid form the Mayor of London.


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. For the second year in a row they won the Rosse Cup for an exhibit of conifers, together with 3 first prizes and 2 second prizes for various exhibits.


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

  • November: Friday 6th, Sunday 15th and Friday 27th
  • December: Friday 4th and Sunday 13th

Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge.
Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m.

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