The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (May 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

The Park in May

Wild London community event will be held on 15 May to celebrate Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Royal Parks and Richmond council have teamed up to host the event on the rugby pitches near Roehampton gate.

The event will showcase the conservational, recreational and inspirational role that Nature Reserves and Parks play in London. Visitors will be able to get involved with hands-on exhibits, as well as watching demonstrations, public displays and performances. The event, which is free to enter, will be open from 10am-5.30pm.

While the Park will open as normal that day, the roads will be closed from Richmond Gate through to Roehampton Gate. The only car park that will be closed is Sheen (exhibitors only). However, other car parks will fill very quickly, not only with the public but with exhibitors. It is advisable not to bring cars to the Park on the day but there will be a heritage bus service on the day. For more information please contact Richmond Council on 0208 891 1411.

Contract work delays The wet weather in April was very welcome for the Park's trees and watercourses. However the contractors working to re-furbish the central horse track and playgrounds have been thwarted by the rain. Both projects have been delayed by a week or two. The playgrounds will only open once the equipment has been checked by a safety inspector and any issues (if found) rectified.

Oak processionary moth May is the time of the year when the caterpillars of this moth are on the move. The caterpillars have hairs which carry a toxin which can be a significant threat to human health, causing skin rashes, eye irritations and respiratory problems. From May to July you may see people staring up at oak trees with binoculars, checking them for nests which are then removed by specialist operatives using protective clothing and equipment.

If you come across the caterpillars or their webbed nests please do not touch them and keep children and pets away. Report any sightings to the Park office on 0300 061 2200.

Caution – Lyme disease The warm weather and plant growth provides cover for ticks that can attach themselves to deer, dogs or humans, potentially causing Lyme disease. Whilst the chances of contracting the disease are low, symptoms can be serious so it’s worth taking sensible precautions. Wearing long trousers, long sleeved shirts and using insect repellents can help to prevent ticks.

If you find a tick on you and develop cold/flu like symptoms or find a rash develops it is precautionary to tell your doctor. Dogs can be prevented from getting ticks by using drops supplied in pet shops or vets. A leaflet is available from Holly Lodge or contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or see their website.

The Isabella Plantation in May

The peak flowering season for rhododendrons and azaleas.

Rhododendrons On the lawn above Thomson’s Pond are two beds planted with the Japanese species, Rhododendron yakushimanum, amongst a group of its hybrids named after the Seven Dwarfs: Sneezy, Grumpy etc. These plants are compact and very floriferous. Also, seek out the tall ‘Loderi’ hybrid ‘King George’, with its large soft pink flowers which are sweetly fragrant. It grows in a number places in the Garden but most notably set back above the Still Pond.

Follow the Small Stream down from the Still Pond to discover Rhododendron williamsiananum, a compact species with attractive bronze young shoots, distinctive heart shaped leaves and bell-shaped, shell-pink flowers. 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.

Evergreen azaleas Easy to identify are: ‘Orange Beauty’, the most orange of all ‘Amoena’, small bright magenta flowers; ‘Rosebud’, opening buds resemble tiny roses ‘Palestrina’, white with a faint ray of green; ‘Vuyk’s Scarlet’, large flowers of a deep silky red ‘Hinode Giri’, bright crimson, around the Still Pond; and ‘Kirin’, a pale pink “hose in hose” (flower within a flower).

Deciduous azaleas These flower slightly later and often have a rich spicy smell, particularly Azalea pontica, (Rhododendron luteum), which is yellow and to be found by the gate to Broomfield Hill. 

The bog garden Look out for Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, growing in the bed by the middle pond. It bears orange-red flowers and has a reddish tinge to the emerging young shoots. Alongside the margins of pools and streams grows the “Japanese Primrose”, Primula japonica ‘Millers Crimson’ with its whorls of crimson flowers which are borne in profusion on tall stems, from May to July.

Also present are the young fronds of the “Shuttlecock Fern”, Matteuccia struthiopteris which show an attractive fresh green. Growing either side of the main pool is the “Ornamental Rhubarb”, Rheum Palmatum. a robust herbaceous perennial with broad, architectural foliage and pink flowers on large erect panicles.

The native tree the “Whitebeam”, Sorbus aria grows near the Broomfield Hill gate and looks particularly attractive at this time of the year with its silvery-white young leaves. Skimmia japonica can also be found growing near this gate along the path that leads onto Camellia Walk and the Still Pond

The “Foxglove Tree”, Paulownia tomentosa, stands in the glade between the Still Pond and Old Nursery Glade. This large leaved tree bares sprays of fragrant foxglove-like pinkish-lilac flowers in spring.

The “Pocket Handkerchief Tree”, Davidia involucrata, set back from the Camellia Walk, has intriguing white hanging bracts. Another specimen may be found in a secluded lawn to the southeast of Thomson’s Pond.

The “Snowdrop Tree”, Halesia carolina, with dangling white bell flowers, stands by the path above Thomson’s Pond.

Cornus nuttallii, whose white bracts appear like flowers, can be found set back in the newly planted Magnolia Glade near the Ham Gate entrance. Also look out for the pale lemon yellow fragrant flowers of Magnolia wilsonii ‘Yellow Fever’ and the wonderful deep purple flowers of Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’.

Bluebells carpet the wilder fringes of the Garden. PLEASE KEEP TO THE PATHS TO AVOID TRAMPLING THEM.

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).

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2012

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

Friday 4 and 25 May, Sunday 13 May

Friday 1 and 29 June, Sunday 17 June

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