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

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Playground refurbishments During March and April the children’s playgrounds near the Kingston and Petersham gates will be refurbished. The work at the larger Petersham playground will take several weeks and the playground will be closed during this time.

Turkey oaks The trees recently felled in Queen Elizabeth Plantation are predominantly Turkey Oaks. Introduced to the UK in 1735 by the nurseryman William Lucombe, the Turkey Oak was originally a native tree of southern Europe and south-west Asia (including Turkey). This tree grows fast but produces very poor quality timber, with little strength or durability. It supports very few insects, contributing little to the ecosystem. By felling the trees, structure and sunlight is introduced to the woodland which encourages the native trees to develop. William Lucombe hybridized the Turkey Oak with Cork oaks (of which there are two at the old army camp in the south of Richmond Park) to produce the Lucombe Oak – timber from which was used to make the coffin for its creator who died at the grand old age of 102!

Rhododendron ponticum clearance In early March contractors will be clearing and burning rhododendron in the conservation area adjacent to Isabella Plantation. Rhododendron is a non-native plant that forms dense cover throughout the woodland, preventing other trees from growing. It can reduce wildlife and change the soil profile and humidity of woodlands, making our native oak trees more likely to catch disease such as Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum).

Deer The cull of male deer takes place in February and is usually completed by early March. By keeping the ratio of male to female deer at about 1:2 the aggression levels between males is kept low, yet there are still plenty of deer with antlers to be seen and the number of young born each year is not too excessive.

To introduce ‘new blood’ into the Richmond Park deer herds, a stag (male Red Deer) and a buck (male Fallow Deer) were introduced a few years ago from Gunton Park in Norfolk. Over the last centuries, deer from Richmond have been sent to improve the blood lines of other herds, including those of Petworth, Dynevor Castle Park and on occasion as far away as New Zealand and Canada. Later in 2012 we plan to send a few deer to Windsor Great Park.

Tern raft This spring will see the installation of a second tern breeding raft in Pen Ponds to add to the raft already installed and used by breeding Common Terns for the past two years. Their interest in the ponds was the result of the restocking the ponds with smaller fish. The rafts are 8’ x 4’ and fitted with perspex sides, which protect the chicks from falling in the water and help prevent other birds such as geese and gulls from monopolising the available space.

Isabella Plantation in March

Heather garden Here Erica x darleyensis ranges throughout in its pink and white varieties. Erica erigena forms taller dense mounds and is represented by "W.T. Rackliff" which is white, and "Brightness" which has rose purple flowers and bronze leaves. Set back towards the top of the Heather Garden is Erica lusitanica, tallest of all, with white flowers opening from pink buds. Erica carnea ‘Myretoun Ruby’ has recently been planted near the Swamp Cyprus its deep reddish pink flowers brighten this spot from January to May.

Camellias Following the path which runs through woodland up the western side of the Garden you will find two of the many famous williamsii hybrid camellias: Camellia 'Donation', and C. 'Inspiration' near the ancient pollard oak. Nearby, the formal double white flowers, striped with red and pink, belong to Camellia japonica 'Lavinnia Maggi'. Camellias frequently produce 'sports', and you may find white, red and striped flowers all on the same plant.

Camellia japonica ‘Preston Rose’ also grows in this area and bears salmon-pink paeony form flowers. Camellia ‘Parkside’, another williamsii hybrid bearing an abundance of large clear pink semi-double flowers, grows in Magnolia grandiflora Glade set back from Thomson’s Lawn. Another garden favourite, Camellia Japonica ‘Alba Simplex’, shows large white flowers with conspicuous yellow stamens and grows in many spots around the garden, including the top of the main stream path where it is set back.

Three Wilson plants Rhododendron lutescens is an early-flowering rhododendron species from China, small leaves and primrose yellow blooms. Many of these plants grow set back to the east of the Main Stream. More, younger plants grow near the fence in Wilson’s Glade.

Wilson’s Glade is situated to the north of the entrance gate from Broomfield Hill car park. It houses a collection of plants introduced to this country by the famous plant collector, Ernest Wilson. Also near the fence of the glade is a group of Stachyurus chinensis, a shrub with long drooping racemes of soft yellow flowers. Close to the main path through the glade is Corylopsis veitchiana, a large erect growing shrub that also bears its flowers in large racemes of primrose yellow with conspicuous brick red anthers.

Magnolias During March several magnolias come into flower. A fine Magnolia stellata stands near the path above Thomson's Pond. Many others are planted throughout the Garden, particularly in woodland areas on the western side.Two young Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ can be found growing in Bluebell Walk opposite Acer Glade. This large shrub or small tree bears lilac-pink flowers that are deeper in bud. A more mature form can be found growing on the other side of Acer Glade by the Scots Pine.

Narcissi Growing on the wet lawn near the gate from Broomfield Hill car park, the dwarf Narcissus cyclamineus, native of Spain and Portugal, has pendent golden flowers with narrow trumpets and upward sweeping petals, reminiscent of a cyclamen bloom. Soon to follow on this lawn will be N. bulbocodium, commonly known as the ‘hooped petticoat’, due to its widely flared trumpet.

Other plants of interest The “Fuji Cherry”, Prunus incisa, grows set back behind the Witch Hazel’s on the path leading from the Broomfield Hill gate leading to the lawn above Thomson’s Pond. This lovely Japanese species bears small white flowers, which are pink-tinged in bud and appear pink from a distance.

Clematis armandii, an evergreen Clematis with creamy white flowers grows up a dead tree in Beech Bay, the area between Thomson’s Pond and the Main Stream. Rhododendron sutchuense stands above the Still Pond, this outstanding Chinese shrub bears a profusion of large bell-shaped flowers which are a rosy-lilac in colour with purple spots. This Rhododendron is another Ernest Wilson introduction. In the ‘V ‘ between the streams area look out for two stunning Rhododendrons grown for both their stunning flowers and bark; Rhododendron shilsonii which has loose trusses of bell shaped blood-red flowers and Rhododendron hylaeum with its pale pink flowers. R.calophytum ‘Robin Hood’ grows above these two rhododendrons, set back off the main stream path and bears large trusses of pale pink bell-shaped flowers with a maroon basal blotch.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2012

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

March Friday 2 and 30, Sunday 11
April Friday 13 and 27

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