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

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The Park in July

Olympic road cycling. On July 28th and 29th the park roads will be closed to vehicles and cycles as it forms part of the Olympic road cycling race. Drivers should expect some delay to their journey on Friday 27th July as the road from Richmond Gate round about to Sheen Cross will be closed from 10.00am to allow the barrier installation to start – and continuing throughout the night. If you plan to visit the Park this weekend, either to walk or view the event do check websites and event notices for information. The park is expected to received unprecedented crowd numbers, the key message being – get to a viewing place early, prepare for the weather, obey dog control measures and take litter home, and celebrate a UK gold medal on the 1st day of the Olympics!

Stag Beetles: – can be found flying in the evenings of July. They are familiar to many people as the UK’s largest insect and the reason Richmond Park is designated as a Special Area of Conservation under European regulations. Their large mandibles resemble red deer antlers. In folk lore they are reputed to start fires by carrying hot coals in the mandibles before landing in thatched roofs. Their Scientific name is Lucanus cervus – Lucanus from the Lucania region of Spain where the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder noted they were worn as amulets (lucky charms) nearly 2000 years ago. Cervus means deer and refers to their mandibles that resemble large deer antlers.

Buy a pizza and help conserve Richmond Park. The café at Roehampton car park has recently installed a new pizza oven. The heat for cooking is generated by firewood – which has been produced as a by-product of woodland management in the Park. Firewood, like solar and power is regarded as a renewable energy source because the carbon dioxide released when burnt, is reabsorbed by trees as they grow.

Grass Snakes. The Park supports just one of the 3 species of snake native to the UK. Non-venomous grass snakes hibernate underground in winter using hollows under trees and are shy and elusive during the summer. If you are lucky to see one, it will inevitably be just as it disappears from view, wary of your presence. Adult females can reach 6ft in length but are usually less than half this. They like to live near water, are good swimmers and feed largely on amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts.

Isabella Plantation in July

Flowering Trees & Shrubs:

Large, late flowering rhododendrons can be found in the south section of the garden, between the stream from the Still Pond and the main central stream. They have pink and white fragrant flowers and include many hybrids of Rhododendron auriculatum. Many rhododendrons are now producing handsome new leaves. These are often covered with a soft felt layer, which is white or ginger, and known as ‘indumentum’.

In the secluded lawn to the south of Thomson’s Pond the first giant flowers of the Magnolia grandiflora are set amongst glossy evergreen leaves. They have thick fleshy cream petals and a delicious citrus scent.

Clethra barbinervis with its long racemes of white fragrant flowers can be found on the path leading from the Top Gate leading down towards Bluebell Walk, near the entrance to Wilson’s Glade.

Heather Garden: Look out for the “Button Bush”, Cephalanthus occidentalis, set back from the path leading to the Bog Garden. This shrub bears creamy white flowers in small globular heads, which are very attractive to butterflies.

Bog Garden: In the Bog Garden the tall yellow spires of Ligularia przewalskii are set against a backdrop of bamboo, and the Gunnera manicata spreads its giant prickly leaves. Here, and by the streams, many varieties of Hemerocallis, the ‘Day Lily,’ flower amongst iris. Bell-shaped, fragrant yellow of the “Giant Cowslip”, Primula florindae show in the marginal bed alongside the decked walkway. The wild flowers of ‘Purple Loosestrife’ and the frothy white blossoms of ‘Meadowsweet’ grow alongside more exotic plantings. Look out for butterflies visiting the Joe Pye weeds (Eupatorium purpureum) with its stately pinkish purple flowers. Water lilies open on Thomson’s Pond, where dragonflies and damselflies hover and dart over the water on warm still days. Just off the central path look out for the soft pink flowers of the ground cover plant Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’.

The Birthday Mound: Hydrangea quercifolia with its large oak shaped leaves and abundance of frothy white flowers heads can be found putting on an impressive show on the banking surrounding the Red Oak stump.

The Foxglove Tree Glade: Hydrangea aspera, flowers in the glade set back from the Still Pond, this magnificent large leafed shrub produces large heads of porcelain blue flowers, with a ring of lilac-pink or white ray florets.

Azalea Feeding: Streamside Azaleas are fed with an organically approved seaweed based feed after flowering to encourage vigour, disease resistance and flower production the following spring.

Lawn Creation: The gardeners are also busy preparing ground and sowing grass seed to create an area of lawn in an open above the Still Pond. This glade has been created by the removal of Rhododendron ponticum and it is hoped that once established it will be used by visitors, offering relief to Thomson’s Lawn.

Please help to support The Isabella Plantation Access Project by dropping your donations into the box by the gate (Information about the Project and donation boxes at the Broomfield Hill and Bottom Gate entrances to the Plantation).

©The Royal Parks