November Park Diary

                                                                                                   Photo by Robert Kirkham

Deer cull. The autumn deer cull starts as usual on the first Monday in November, i.e. Monday 7 November. The Park gates will be closed to all pedestrians and traffic from 8 pm to 7.30 am.

John Bartram retires. John Bartram retired as the Park's Head Deerkeeper at the end of October after more than 30 years. He was interviewed on ITV News, see here. We also have an article about him in our autumn newsletter, due to be sent out next week. We wish him a very happy retirement. 

The perfect Christmas Gift! Friends’ branded goods are available at the Visitor Centre: cotton aprons, bags, baseball caps, woollen beanie hats, mugs, tea towels and notebooks. See here

Discoverer’s Moon Watch 12th Nov. This event has proved very popular and is now fully booked. We can only take bookings for the waiting list and unfortunately cannot guarantee a place. Details here

Fatal accident. Many people have asked about the flowers placed in the fenced area by the roadside at the bottom of Sawyers Hill and various rumours have been circulating. They mark the site of a fatal accident of a skateboarder there in September. The Evening Standard’s report on the inquest is here.

Ceramics from the Park. Bridget Macklin is a ceramics maker in Wimbledon who, with TRP’s permission, gathered clay from Beverley Brook during the conservation work and is making fragile ceramic vessels with it. Half of her proceeds are donated to the Friends for further conservation work, thus creating a neat circle. You can see an example of her work on our Facebook page here or on her own website here. Please contact her directly if you are interested. 

Geotrail walk. The walk on 12th October was attended by approx. 25 people; more than expected! Led by members of the London Geodiversity Partnership, supported by the Friends of Richmond Park, the walk highlighted the different soil types and clues from the landscape to see what lay beneath. More details and a fully documented report on the Geotrail is to come. Watch this space! Meanwhile, here are 2 photos by Brian McDonald.

A rare sighting!  On 14th October the Friends' Friday Bird Group spotted a diminutive jack snipe at Pen Ponds. Then two together were seen on the 28th. A very secretive wader, most active at dawn and dusk, only four previous sightings have been recorded in the Park this century. They winter in Britain before returning to NE Scandinavia in late March to breed. See Nigel Jackman’s photo here

New £5 million mega-nursery to open next summer. The size of a football pitch, it is to be built at London’s Hyde Park and will produce some 98% of the Royal Parks horticultural requirements, including plants and shrubs for Isabella Plantation and Pembroke Lodge gardens. More details here

Photographers of deer. In October the Times and Telegraph both carried photos of the deer rut, contributing to the visitors coming to see it. See the newspaper photos here. We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of people coming from even long distances (the rut featured in the Ilford local newspaper and there are photography trips organised from various parts of London promising to ‘get up close and personal’ with the deer). The deer are getting stressed and there is an accident waiting to happen. This is not a new phenomenon. See the Times article on 5 November last year here



3 Dec Roehampton Gate car park
26 Dec Pembroke Lodge car park
7 Jan Robin Hood Gate car park

All welcome, walks start at 10.00am from the designated car park.

Informal birdwatching walks – Fridays – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am.


26 Nov VETERAN TREES (Simon Richards, Park Manager)
A talk indoors at Pembroke Lodge followed by a walk. We have a large number of wonderful old trees in the park, and it will be very interesting to learn more about them.

Friends members only – Pembroke Lodge 10.00am – no need to book – just turn up.
Tea/coffee provided.


Richmond Park Diary – November

Richmond Park Deerkeeper retires. The Park diary usually resists articles about people, but an exception is made for John Bartram. Born and bred in Ham, John retired on 31 October having completed over 30 years of service as a Deerkeeper in Richmond Park, following six years’ service as a gamekeeper at Kew Gardens. During that time he saw a lot of changes but believes the reduction of the speed limit in Richmond Park from 30mph in 2004 was a huge benefit to the welfare of the deer. Previously there were many deer killed each year, but when it dropped to 20mph there was just one death in the first 18 months.

His career highlight was being promoted to Senior Deerkeeper in 2002 and his dedication and hard work managing the deer health and welfare has resulted in one of the finest captive herds in England. John’s biography is due to be published next year and is anticipated to be an entertaining and poignant read. See the ITV news clip featuring John and his work here.

Common Tern migration. There are 2 floating rafts on Pen Ponds that have been placed there to encourage terns to breed and raise young. They tend to breed successfully raising a small number of chicks each year which successfully fledge. This year one of the chicks that had an identity ring attached to its leg was discovered in a survey in Senegal where it was on its spring passage in April this year. It would have migrated much further south for the winter. It is heart-warming and amazing to know that a little bird born in Richmond Park and weighing 130g makes a journey of almost 5,000 miles, twice every year.

Major events in Richmond Park. The Royal Parks recently reviewed its approach to hosting major events in the Royal Parks which followed consultation with stakeholders in the context of a need to generate revenue in response to reduced government funding. The subsequent document was produced in May 2015 and is available on the Royal Parks website. Richmond Park has hosted 2 major events a year that require Park road closures (the London Duathlon and Ride London) and 3rd running event with partial road closures. In 2017 the 3rd event will be a much larger running event and will require a full road closures the date is yet to be confirmed. These three events raise significant revenue for the Royal Parks which is necessary to continue to maintain the management standards that visitors rightly expect and the Royal Parks are internationally famous for.

Deer cull reminder. With no predators and 200 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Parks’ carrying capacity without human intervention. To prevent starvation and malnutrition, the deer are selectively culled each year starting on the 1st Mondays of November and February and lasting for up to 6 weeks on each occasion. The herd is maintained at 630 animals with the correct balance of ages and sexes. During the cull the Park is closed to pedestrians and cyclists overnight from 20.00hrs until park opening at 07.30.

Isabella Plantation – 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 plants crown to protect the plant from the elements during the cold winter months.

Gardeners and volunteers will be busy removing left over areas of Rhododendron ponticum from isolated spots around the Plantation this winter. 95% of the R.ponticum within the Isabella Plantation has now been removed. This is all in an effort to slow the spread of existing pests and diseases and also to safeguard the plant collection against future infection by fungal pathogens such as Phytophthoras, which have the potential to devastate the Plantation’s important collections of Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia. The removal of this invasive evergreen shrub has improved airflow and reduced humidity creating healthier conditions within the Plantation. The space created by clearance also presents an exciting opportunity to plant more native and exotic trees and shrubs, as well as create new glades, rides and open areas within the Plantation. Visitors to the Plantation should notice more new planting being carried out over the winter months.

On Friday 28 October Isabella Plantation exhibited a range of trees and shrubs at the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Shades of Autumn’ Show in the RHS Halls, Vincent Square, Westminster. The Plantation successfully secured 3 first prizes, 1 second, 3 thirds and 1 fourth prize.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2016

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.

November: Friday 25th; Sunday 13th
December: Friday 2nd; Sunday 18th

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