The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (April issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public noticeboards.

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

Mistletoe is a curious evergreen plant that grows on host trees such as apples, limes and hawthorns. There is only one known mistletoe in the Park, high on a ;ime tree near Petersham Gate, whilst in nearby Bushy Park it grows in abundance. A simple trial to propagate some mistletoe three years ago resulted in two new sprigs in a private top-secret corner of the Park. Following this success several more sticky seeds have been smeared onto trees. By doing this in March, the seeds start to germinate immediately with reduced chances of being washed off by rain, and a simple mesh screen protects them from birds.

Playground refurbishments  The two children’s playgrounds, at Kingston Gate Car Park and Petersham Gate, are being refurbished. The work at the larger Petersham Playground will take several weeks and at Kingston the playground will be closed for a few weeks towards the end of the schedule. It is not possible to say exactly when they will reopen and even when they look completed safety inspections and any adjustments will need to be undertaken. The toilets at Petersham Playground will need to be closed for some of the time during the rebuild.

Horse ride rebuild Contractors will be busy repairing a length of horse ride between the Middle Road and Prince Charles Spinney during April. The ride is badly eroded and rutted and almost impassable during wet winters. It is also the vital link that forms part of three or four different circuits – which is why it is one of the worst areas for riding and why it is in desperate need of repair. A small pond will also be dug whilst the machinery is on site and the soil used to reinstate the ride.

Hosepipe ban The hosepipe ban that comes into force in April is a worrying sign of just how little rain we have had during the winter. The Royal Parks will not use hose pipes for irrigation during the ban but are permitted to abstract some river water from the Beverley Brook to water newly planted trees if need be.

Oak Processionary Moth The eggs of this invasive alien insect pest hatch on oak trees in April. A breeding population was first found in Richmond Park in 2009 and is now the subject of a rigorous control programme. The caterpillars carry toxic hairs which can pose a significant threat to human health. In April a limited pesticide spraying programme will take place in Pembroke Lodge Gardens and areas of the park. Nest removal work will take place at the optimum time of June and July.

The Isabella Plantation in April

The streams are bright with Marsh Marigolds, (Caltha palustris). The yellow hooded spathes of the American Skunk Cabbage, (Lysichiton americanus), which precede large rank leathery leaves, are conspicuous along the stream from the Still Pond.

Camellias are still flowering throughout the Garden. They are mainly older Camellia japonica cultivars and a number of Williamsii hybrids.

Rhododendrons Along the Bluebell Walk, opposite the Acer Glade, look out for the bright purple flowers of the deciduous R. reticulatum.

This month the Japanese azaleas start into flower. They are usually at their best during the last week of April and the first week of May. R.racemosum grows down the path from the Still Pond; it is a medium sized shrub that bears pale to bright pink flowers.

Rhododendron ‘Quaker Girl’ grows in the glade set back from the path at the top of Thomson’s Stream and bears trusses of stunning white flowers with a deep crimson throat. Look out for Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ growing in a number of areas in the garden; this shrub produces compact trusses of rich crimson funnel shaped flowers with maroon spots.

Early evergreen azaleas are beginning to flower throughout the garden. Look out for ‘Kirin’, a pale pink “hose in hose” (flower within an flower), and ‘Sylvester’, which has small deep pink flowers. In a glade set back from the Main Stream and other locations around the Garden are the blue-flowering Rhododendrons from the Triflorum series: Rhododendron augustinii and the R. chasmanthum hybrid Rhododendron ‘Electra’.

Magnolias Throughout the gardens pink and white forms of Magnolia soulangiana come into flower. Along the Bluebell Walk are two small pink hybrids of M. stellata, called M. X loebneri 'Leonard Messel'. A larger one is set back by the Scots Pine to the far side of the Acer Glade. Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ one of the Gresham Hybrids grows in a ride off the Main Stream and has goblet shaped flowers, pink on the outside and white inside. Its flowers have a strong lavender scent.

Daffodils In the Wet Lawn area near the top gate, the golden yellow flowers of Narcissus bulbocodium subsp. bulbocodium with conical cups and pointed petals have now appeared and succeed the delicate flowers of Narcissus cyclamineus, which are also naturalised in this area.

The bog garden Look out for the clusters of white or pale pink flowers borne on white–haired stems which are those of the “Umbrella Plant”, Darmera peltata, which flowers before it produces foliage.

Wheelchair available A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9am and 3pm. Please ring 020 8948 3209 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2012

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

April: Friday 13th and 27th

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.

©The Royal Parks