Robin photo: Petra Mannooch-Riggs

Chairman, credit cards & Christmas gifts…

Ron Crompton – 10 years as Chairman.

We wish to extend a big Thank You! to Ron Compton for his invaluable guidance and support to the Friends of Richmond Park since becoming our Chairman in 2007. Ron has made a huge contribution in helping to protect and conserve our own National Nature Reserve and its wildlife. Congratulations Ron and long may you continue!

Credit Cards accepted.

We are delighted to announce that the Visitor Centre now has credit/debit card facilities, so you can buy all your gifts and souvenirs and no longer need to carry large amounts of cash! In addition to the specially printed Christmas cards, there’s the 2018 Calendar packed with beautiful park scenes plus lots of park related merchandise to choose from. If you haven’t been lately it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re stuck for gift ideas.

John Bartram at two Friends events.

John Bartram recently retired as the head gamekeeper of Richmond Park; his fascinating experiences of over 40 years are captured in his memoirs 'Park Life' now on sale at the Visitor Centre. Members have two opportunities in the New Year to hear him talk at these free events:

• Saturday 13 January at 1 pm in the Belvedere Suite at Pembroke Lodge. (Open to members and their guests).
• Saturday 14 April at the Friends' AGM, starting at 10.30 am at King's House School. (Members only).

History and Stories of Richmond Park.

On Saturday 27 January at 10.15 am at Pembroke Lodge, the Chair of the Friends Ron Crompton will give an illustrated talk on the stories behind the Park's history, from the oldest structure in the Park to the rivalry that created White Lodge and on to the 1948 Olympics. Put the date in your diary!

We need your Votes!

Our RP film has been entered for the 2018 Charity Film Awards, and every single vote counts. Voting takes just a couple of minutes:
• register here, then 'click to get voting, go to 'Documentaries/Long Form' (bottom of page), click on 'Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve' and vote!
It's important we get as many votes as possible as the film will get high profile publicity and mean many more will see our Tread Lightly message.
Please tell your friends and family!

Richmond Park film – on TV on Christmas Day,

If you can't make it to the Park on Christmas Day or the weather's terrible, you'll be able to sup a glass of festive sherry before your Christmas lunch and enjoy our film Richmond Park, National Nature Reserve at 12.30 pm on London Live TV (channel 8 on Freeview/BTTV: 117 on Sky Satellite, 159 on Virgin Media).

It will also be broadcast on London Live on Boxing Day 26th December at 10.00 am. Please spread the word!

Get the DVD.

If you want to watch the film uninterrupted at any time, enjoy the exclusive Sir Trevor McDonald/Sir David Attenborough interview or need that special gift, the DVD is selling fast at the Visitor Centre by Pembroke Lodge priced at just £5.

Tread lightly message taken to schools

We've sent dozens of DVDs to primary and secondary schools throughout the boroughs of Richmond, Kingston and Wandsworth to spread the word on Tread Lightly in Richmond Park. We're visiting many schools to reinforce the message in assemblies and special presentations. If you know of a school who would like to have the Richmond Park film presented by a trustee, please email:

RP film screened at Cambrian Community Centre.

On 26 Nov the Richmond Park film was screened to an audience of 80 people, organised by Cambrian trustees and presented by FRP trustees with a Q&A session following the screening.
Note: The Cambrian Community Centre is a facility shared by residents of the Cambrian estate, situated close to Cambrian gate.

From Richmond Park to the deep and Blue Planet II.

The cameraman who filmed David Attenborough sequences in Richmond Park for our film was also the main cameraman for deep sea sequences in Blue Planet II. Last November when Gavin Thurston packed up his equipment after filming David Attenborough by the Royal Oak, he headed off to Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego (south Argentina), sailed to Antarctica and jumped in a yellow submarine to film exotic creatures below the ice cap. Watch an amusing video of his experience here.


Walks & Courses in 2018.

See the full year’s programme of walks and courses (up to June) on the Friends’ website

Next 3 months   


• 26 Dec Pembroke Lodge Car Park
• 06 Jan Robin Hood Gate Car Park
• 03 Feb Roehampton Gate Car Park

All are welcome to join our walks. Start 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise.

Informal birdwatching walks – Every Friday – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am


• 13 Jan A Life in the Park (John Bartrum) at 1.00pm
• 27 Jan History & Stories of Richmond Park (Ron Crompton)
• 17 Feb Bird Song 1: Medium/large birds in park (Peter Burrows-Smith)

Friends’ members only – no need to book – just turn up. Courses start 10.15am at Pembroke Lodge, unless otherwise stated. (New members welcome – your friends can join here)

Richmond Park Diary December 2017

This month is, of course, dominated by the run up to Christmas but there is no mistaking that winter is finally upon us, with the drop in temperatures and most of the trees now bare.

IVY (Hedera helix).

Ivy, however, is one of the UK’s few native evergreen plants, and is found within the Park. It was originally used to help celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival, to ward off evil spirits and to celebrate new growth, but today it can be commonly seen clinging to buildings, walls and trees. It can grow to a height of 30 metres, as it has climbing stems with specialised hairs that helps it stick to surfaces. Sadly, this woody climber is a much maligned species and is often accused of strangling trees. Ivy should however be celebrated and valued for the pivotal role it plays in providing insects, birds, bats and other small mammals with food and shelter, especially in winter.
Only mature ivy produces flowers, from September to November, which provides nectar and pollen for bees, hoverflies and common wasps. It is also an important food plant for some butterfly and moth larvae such as the Holly blue. The high fat content of the berries, which ripen from November to January, provide a nutritious food resource for birds including thrushes, blackcaps, woodpigeons and blackbirds so don’t forget to celebrate ivy this month along with Christmas too!


A contractor is currently working to clear and burn the Rhododendron ponticum across Spankers Hill Wood, which is a non-native invasive plant that has formed a dense cover throughout this wood. Rhododendron prevents native plants and trees from establishing and thriving, has negative impacts upon wildlife and also acts as a host and vector for diseases such as Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum), which can affect our native oak trees. This work is being funded by the Forestry Commission, as part of a 5-year English Woodland Grant Scheme, to control the rhododendron and sustainably manage the woodlands within the Park.


The red and fallow deer have now come to the end of the rut and have eaten well so you may now see the deer lying down, resting or even having a sleep! Please respect the deer and keep at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range.


Every day throughout December, Capital Christmas Trees will be open and selling British grown Christmas trees at Roehampton Car Park. The trees range in height from 3ft – 12ft as pot-grown or cut-trees and you can choose from Nordman Fir, Fraser Fir to Noble Fir or Serbian Spruce. Each tree is hand selected to ensure it is of the highest quality, and it comes with a care label and a unique number so you can check online where your tree was grown. After the festive season is over, you can also take your tree back to any Capital Gardens Centre by 14th January for chipping. More information.


In liaison with Operation Centaur, horse and carriage rides will be operating in Richmond Park from Saturday 2nd December through to Saturday 30th December on various days. A unique experience to explore the Park with the majestic Shire horses and see the beauty and wildlife up close whilst under the warmth of a blanket. For more information and to make a booking be quick to book, as the places are selling out fast!


We wish you a Merry Christmas…

…and thank you for treading lightly in Richmond Park National Nature Reserve

December in Isabella Plantation

Winter Flowers

Hamamelis mollis, the “Witch Hazel”, has very fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill.

Mahonia bealii, whose racemes of yellow flowers smell like “Lily-of the Valley”, can be found set back in woodland to the south of the Acer Glade

Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ can be found by the Bluebell Walk on the east of the Acer Glade, at this time of year it bears fragrant cream-coloured flowers.

Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’, the “Autumn Cherry” can be found growing set back from the path leading to Wilson’s Glade from the top gate. Following autumn tints to the leaves, this small tree produces semi-double, white flowers from November to March.

Garrya eliptica grows alongside the Main Stream path, this evergreen shrub bears long greyish green catkins at this time of year.

Sarcococca confusa, a small evergreen shrub grows alongside the Main Stream and produces very fragrant white flowers this month.

A single stand of Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’ grows in a glade just off the Main Stream this upright shrub bears densely packed clusters of sweetly scented, rose-tinted flowers throughout the cold winter months.

Trees and Shrubs with Coloured and Textured Bark

To see photos and a printable version of these trees, shrubs and flowers click here

Salix alba 'Chermesina' ('Britzensis'), the pollarded willows by Peg's Pond, have amber and red stems.

Cornus sericea var.'Flaviramea' nearby under the weeping willow, and also adjacent to the Bog Garden, has smooth greenish yellow stems.

Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ has bright red stems. Two groups are set back behind the Heather Garden, others in the Bog Garden along with Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ with its brilliant flame red, orange and yellow stems.

Betula nigra, the “River Birch”, has papery shredding buff coloured bark. One may be found by the path above the Heather Garden, and the other towards the top of the Main Stream.

Betula jacquemontii, three young birches with striking white bark stand on the lawn above Thomson's Pond. Several multi-stemmed forms of this tree can be found in the woodland area near the wild stream in the northern part of the Garden.

Prunus serrula, set back on the lawn east of Thomson's Pond, has gleaming mahogany-red bark peeling into curly shreds.

Several 'snake-bark' acers may be found throughout the Garden as well as other species of birch, all with interesting bark.

Acer griseum, the “Paperbark Maple” grows in the wet lawn area by the top gate and also in Wilson’s Glade, as well as other areas of the garden. This beautiful tree not only has good autumn colour but also a great colour to its trunk, which is particularly obvious in the winter months, as the old bark peels off to expose the cinnamon coloured underbark.

Heather Garden

Erica X darleyensis comes into flower this month in its pink and white forms.

Erica vagans, the Cornish Heath, has tawny seed heads which remain decorative all winter.
Erica lusitanica, the tall Portugal Heath, bears slightly fragrant tubular white flowers opening from pink buds throughout the winter.

Nandina domestica, the “Sacred Bamboo” provides a stunning backdrop to the heathers in this area, its leaves tinge red in autumn and winter and it also bears a profusion of spherical red fruits.

Removal of Rhododendron ponticum

Gardeners and volunteers will be busy removing what is left of Rhododendron ponticum and any regrowth from Isolated spots around the Plantation this winter. 99% of the R.ponticum within the Isabella Plantation has now been removed. This is all in an effort to slow the spread of existing pests and diseases and also to safeguard the plant collection against future infection by fungal pathogens such as Phytophthoras, which have the potential to devastate the Plantation’s important collections of Rhododendron, Azalea and Camellia.

The removal of this invasive evergreen shrub has improved airflow and reduced humidity creating healthier conditions within the Plantation. The space created by clearance also presents an exciting opportunity to plant more native and exotic trees and shrubs, as well as create new glades, rides and open areas within the Plantation. Visitors to the Plantation should notice more new planting being carried out over the winter months.


Congratulations goes to Jamie Gould one of Richmond Park’s apprentices (who’s currently on placement in Isabella Plantation) for beating the competition from all the other Royal Parks to win The Royal Parks Guild 2nd Year Apprentice of the Year Award.


Isabella Plantation Garden Walks

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks in the Isabella Plantation throughout the year.

Walks will take place on Sundays and Fridays

  • December 17 & 29

  • January 5, 14 & 26

Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge.

Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m.