The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (October 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 protected]
The Park in October
Deer rut advice for walkers Deer are wild animals and can be unpredictable. Richmond Park is a nature reserve with herds of wild deer roaming freely. Deer can feel threatened by people and dogs, even over long distances. This is particularly during the rut which starts in September and continues into October. We recommend keeping at least 50m from deer and give them the respect they need at this time.
Rhododendron clearance Contractors are removing and burning Rhododendron ponticum in Sidmouth woods to restore the woodlands to the benefit of native wildlife. Please do not be alarmed if you see or smell smoke. The path that cuts through Sidmouth Wood will also be cleared as it is dominated by very mature plants, which may seed into the woodland.
Eels are curious snake-like fish. The young are born in the Sargasso Sea and migrate 4,000 miles to Europe. Metamorphosis occurs from the larval stage into small transparent small eels known as elvers. They enter freshwater rivers (including the Thames) and can move overland through wet grassland into ponds. As they grow they become yellow eels and after 5+ years in freshwater they change for a 4th time and become silver eels.
Eels have been found in many of Richmond Park's ponds and rivers and can occasionally be seen hunting prey at dusk, or during the night if viewed with a torch. After 20-30 years eels return to the Sargasso Sea to breed and the life cycle begins again. However the number returning has reduced by 95 per cent over the past 25 years and they are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Running event – partial road closures On Saturday 18th October the park road will be closed from Roehampton car park to Kingston car park. In addition the road between Kingston Gate and Ham Cross will be closed for a short period in the morning. The event is a 5, 10 or 15 km run exclusively for women – entry via www.Humanrace.co.uk
Horse chestnut trees The horse chestnut tree was introduced to the UK from south-east Europe. When the leaves fall in autumn the stalks leave a scar on the twig in the shape of a horseshoe with small dots resembling nails – hence the name. The seeds (conkers) are mildly poisonous to horses but deer can digest them and indeed, they form an essential part of their diet before winter.
Being non-native, they support less wildlife than native trees but we value them as fantastic landscape trees, especially in spring when they are covered in tall candlestick blossoms. Of course, the seeds are enjoyed by school children playing conkers, but during both world wars they were collected and used in the manufacture of cordite. Horse chestnuts are affected by a leaf-mining moth in late summer but of particular concern is the disease Bleeding Canker which can kill the tree.
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 its 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.
Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ bears dense clusters of violet fruit. A group of these shrubs may be seen on the banks of the small stream flowing from the Still Pond. 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, show 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.
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 Garden Walks 2014
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
October: Friday 31st, Sunday 19th
November: Friday 7th and 28th, Sunday 9th
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.