October Diary

                                                                                                                Photo by Anne Ross

Friends' Diary

Geotrail Walk 12th Oct – open to all. The walk will be led by members of the London Geodiversity Partnership, supported by the Friends of Richmond Park. Meeting at Kingston Gate car park at 10.30am, it takes a circular route, stopping for lunch at Pembroke Lodge and returning to Kingston Gate around 4.30pm. You can leave the walk at any point on the route. It is free and you don't need to book – just turn up. See full details here

ITV News takes up our gel pack story. More gel pack litter after London Duathlon. The Friends were sad to discover substantial amounts of gel pack litter in the park along the London Duathlon route, even after the organisers had carried out their clean-up operation. Our Press Release was widely reported in the national, local press and online media the following week:
Daily Mail, Evening Standard, Mashable UK, Road,cc .
ITV News featured it on the 6 o’clock news. See news clip and Press Release

Volunteers needed. Richmond Park’s Green Gym. You are welcome to join us in clearing invasive rhododendrons and planting native trees. Great fun, enjoyable exercise and good company on Saturday mornings from 9.15 to 12.00. Ask one of our volunteers for more information or see our Volunteering page. Tools and training in their use will be provided. Personal Protective Equipment will be available.

Friends’ Christmas Cards. The new season's Friends of Richmond Park Christmas cards are now available at the Visitor Centre, by Pembroke Lodge. There are 5 new and exclusive cover photos, taken in the Park, by local photographers Diana Loch, Andy Gulland and Anne Ross. A pack of 5 assorted designs is £3.50. Also available at 80p each. All proceeds will go towards conservation projects in the Park. See how they look.

New Friends' Calendar selling well. The new calendar is selling well. Get your copy when you pick up your Christmas cards! Further details here.

Fungi and other 'autumn fruits'. This is the season of autumn fruits – conkers, chestnuts, fungi and so on. Fungi are part of the ecosystem: beetles, flies and fungus gnats all lay eggs in fungi; squirrels, deer, slugs and snails all eat them. Many fungi in the Park are rare. You may have read that the New Forest recently banned the collection of fungi because of the large numbers taken by commercial gatherers. Their removal has long been illegal in the Royal Parks. Please help to protect them; if you see someone, especially a group of people, picking fungi, please call 101 (the police non-emergency number) and report it as a theft.

Bird count – one more than last year! 65 species of birds were spotted in the Park on Saturday 1st October during a wet, but well supported Autumn Bird Count. Pleasingly, given the weather, that was one more species than seen at last autumn's count. Summer visitors, hobby, swallows and house martins, were still present, and other sightings included a wheatear on passage, teal, gadwall, siskin and redwing.

Defibrillators. In September a cyclist had a cardiac arrest on Dark Hill; he was successfully resuscitated by the police and transferred by ambulance to St George’s Hospital. All Royal Parks police vehicles carry a defibrillator and there is also one at Pembroke Lodge and at Roehampton Gate cafe (when they are open), with staff trained to use them.

Gladiatorial stags. Now the rutting season is firmly upon us, we are reminded to take care when near the deer. Nigel Jackman captured these photos of stags in combat, and also enjoying a mud bath, at  Attenborugh Pond. See photos

Not a red, but a copper letter day! On that famously hot day of 15th September Nigel Jackman scoured the Park searching for Small Copper butterflies and recorded an amazing 156. A late second or a third brood, they were found in abundance at Pond Slade (54) and on Sidmouth Slope above the Pen Ponds (45), the majority nectaring on ragwort wherever there were surviving plants in flower. 29 were counted at Pembroke Lodge, all nectaring in the flower beds. Their name aptly describes them with their brightly burnished copper forewings, with black margins and spots. Throughout the Park they were regularly found co-existing with smaller numbers of Small Heath butterflies. Here’s a photo

Friends' Events Calendar

5 Nov Pembroke Lodge car park
3 Dec Roehampton Gate car park
26 Dec Pembroke Lodge car park
All welcome, start at 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise

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

8 Oct DEER (Peter Burrows-Smith)
22 Oct FUNGI (Janet Bostock and Elisabeth Cheesman)
26 Nov VETERAN TREES (Simon Richards, Park Manager)
Pembroke Lodge 10am – Friends members only. No need to book, just turn up

Park Management Diary 

Gas lamps. October sees the nights draw in, the change to GMT and the park can be dark in the evenings when many people are visiting or commuting home. It is thought that around 1500 gas lamps still exist in London and many of these are in the ‘central’ Royal Parks such as St James’s Park and Hyde Park. In Richmond the street lamps at Ham Gate are still fuelled by gas. They are also kept to preserve some of the historical context of the Park and sit on top of the gate pillars. They cast a gentle light which is sufficient to see well enough when using the pedestrian gate but unobtrusive in the surrounding area.

Cycling. Road cycling isn’t for everyone. Some people feel uncomfortable with the pace and children or inexperienced cyclists want to practice and gain confidence on quieter routes away from cars. ‘Leisure’ cycling is permitted along c. 14 miles of routes away from cars. The Tamsin Trail shared user path is a circular path of 7.35 miles around the perimeter of the park, plus the 1 mile link between Ham and Petersham Gate. Cyclists may also ride on the closed roads between Ham Cross and Sheen Cross via Pen Ponds car park. There are also paths that run parallel with the roads between Roehampton Gate and Richmond Gate, between Ham Cross and Kingston Gate and between Sheen Cross and Sheen Gate. In addition the Park Regulations specifically state that ‘No person shall, unless he is a child of 10 years of age or under, use any pedal cycle except on a Park road or in an area designated and marked for that purpose’. In practical terms, children can learn to ride anywhere safe in the Park when supervised by a responsible adult who is on foot.

Trick or treat run. This family running event takes place on Sunday 30th October starting and finishing at Robin Hood Gate car park. The route uses the following park roads that will be closed to traffic: Roehampton Gate, Sheen Cross and Pen Ponds Car Park and Robin Hood Gate. Roehampton Gate will also be closed to traffic for the day.

Star & Garter Hill – road works. There are a number of road works planned on a series of dates between October and December whilst utility companies conduct work in the road on Star and Garter Hill and outside Ancaster House. Traffic will be diverted or managed with lights. Please observe advanced warning signs or check the Richmond Borough Council website for updates.

Autumn colour. The best autumn colour comes when a long hot summer suddenly ends by a sharp drop in temperature and Maples produce the best colour of all in the landscape. Close to Kingston Gate, above Gallows Pond a glade of Sugar Maples were planted to recognise the support of the Canadian Army during WWII. The bright red autumn colour jumps out from surrounding Oak Woodland during October. Elsewhere in the Park, the native Field Maple produces a subtle yellow leaf in autumn. The Field Maple is associated with the heart and love and is said to bring contentment to those who are burdened by responsibility. According to ancient wisdom passing a child through the branches of a Field Maple would ensure a long life!

Isabella Plantation in October

Early Autumn Colour, Flowers and Fruit:

Near Thomson’s Pond.
Nyssa sylvatica, the "Tupelo Tree" growing on the bank of the Pond assumes brilliant colours from gold to flame this month.
Parrotia persica, the "Persian Ironwood", grows on Thompson’s Lawn; this tree has a wide spreading habit and colours richly in autumn.
Liquidambar styraciflua, the "Sweet Gum" grows on a boundary lawn set back from the path; it has lobed leaves similar to those of an Acer but can be distinguished by the alternate rather than opposite arrangement on the shoot.
Another “Sweet Gum”, Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’grows on Thompson’s Lawn, it is pyramidal in shape; unlike most this cultivar often bears fruit in Britain. Both these trees are transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour with leaves ranging from pale yellow to dark crimson hues.
The native “Spindle Bush”, Euonymus europaeus can be seen growing at the top of Thompson’s Lawn in the shelter belt area, its mid green leaves redden in the Autumn as it red fruits open to reveal orange seed. Euonymus alatus also grows on the southern boundary of the Thompson’s Pond area and is one of the finest deciduous shrubs for autumn colour, with leaves turning a rich rosy scarlet before falling.
Last but not least seek out Stewartia monodelpha standing below Thompson’s Pond its leaves bear rich autumn tints.

A common streamside plant within the garden is Osmunda regalis, the “Royal Fern.” At this time of year the fronds turn an attractive golden yellow colour before dying back in the winter months.
Acers throughout the garden show autumn tints and bear ‘propeller driven’ seeds. The red foliage of the large Acer palmatum above the Still Pond reflects in its dark waters. Hamamelis mollis, the”Chinese Witch Hazel”, near the gate from Broomfield Hill, turns a rich butter yellow.
Look out for Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’ which has spectacular foliage in autumn with long lasting colours of rich metallic-red and orange.
It can be found growing in a number of places within the garden, including the glade behind the toilet block just off Camellia Walk. The large rounded leaves of Vitus cognetiae, the climbing vine shows stunning crimson and scarlet autumn tints, it can be found scrambling up an oak tree near a bench on the Main Stream. In Wilson’s Glade Viburnum betulifolium grows alongside the main path at this time of year its long swaying branches are laden with red-currant like fruits.

Bog Garden.
The three clumps of tall grass bearing elegant silky flower plumes and showing reddish brown are those of Miscanthus sinensis Malepartus. A form of “Sacred Bamboo” Nandina domestica ‘Firepower’ grows within the Island bed and the marginal bed adjacent to the pontoon decking. This compact shrub has yellow-green foliage in summer which turns orange-red in the autumn and winter months.
Nyssa sinensis is planted in the main Bog Garden bed and also by the stream, look out for its narrow pointed leaves that are purplish when young and then mature to a brilliant scarlet in the autumn months. The gardeners protect Gunnera manicata from hard winter frosts by cutting and laying the giant rhubarb like leaves over the crown of plants. As autumn moves into winter and the leaves rot a layer of bracken fronds harvested from the Park will be added to the leaves to further protect these plants.

Isabella Plantation Walks

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

October: Friday 7th and 28th
Sunday 23rd

November: Friday 4th and 25th
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.