Badgers, Swan Volunteers & Christmas Gifts

Diary Dates

05 Dec Holly Lodge Centre Christmas Concert, Christ Church, Sheen

26 Dec Pembroke Lodge Car Park Walk

05 Jan Robin Hood Gate Car Park Walk

12 Jan Birds of Richmond Park (change of subject and speaker)

13 April Friends’ AGM at Kings House School, Richmond.

Swan Sanctuary needs volunteers.

If you have a few hours to spare, the Swan Sanctuary are always looking for volunteer rescuers and drivers. You can do as little or as much as your time permits, either as a driver and/or rescuer. All the Swan Sanctuary really ask is that you are reliable and easy to contact. For more information contact Ann on 07984 201854 or

Badger sett causes road closures.

Starting Monday 3rd December the road between Robin Hood Gate and Roehampton Gate car parks will be closed to both cars and cyclists while repair work is carried out. A badger sett inhabiting the ground under the road has created a vast ‘underground mansion’ with many corridors and 30-40 entrances. In some places it is very close to the road above and could collapse it. Luckily the underground tunnels that are causing the problem are close to an alternative underground ‘annex’, and the badgers have been carefully, temporarily re-directed to this ‘safe area’.

The road will be open to traffic over Christmas and New Year but then probably closed again from Monday 7th January for 2-3 weeks. During the closure, Robin Hood Gate and Pen Ponds car parks will only be accessible from the Kingston side and Roehampton Gate car park from the Roehampton side. Cyclists should divert onto the Tamsin Trail.

Christmas gifts and stocking fillers.

There are so many great gift ideas at the Visitor Centre – don’t miss the opportunity before Christmas is upon us. The well-stocked shelves offer lots of choice for nature lovers and all those who enjoy the Park – not forgetting our exclusive Friends’ Christmas Cards, more park-themed cards and postcards, a range of souvenirs and gifts, including the amazing Richmond Park Film DVD and the superb Friends’ 2019 Calendar featuring beautiful photographs of park scenes and wildlife, by local photographers.

Just in, a new stock of the very popular model deer. They come in 4 different sizes and are made from strong, weatherproof woven vine. A great feature for your patio, garden or Christmas decorations!

All profits go to support the Park. The Centre is open every day 11.00am till 3.00pm.

Deer and dusk.

Dusk is the time when the Park’s deer have most to fear from cars. The deer are often crossing the roads to feed in areas vacated by people and dogs, cars are going fast to exit the Park before the gates close and the poor light means drivers don’t see the deer. A dashcam from one of our members recorded the moment when a fallow deer dashed across the road in front of him. See video here (you’ll need to watch carefully to spot it); if he’d been going more than 20mph he would have hit it. So at dusk please drive slowly and keep a watchful eye out for deer.

Change to talk on 12 January.

We have had to change the speaker and subject for the Friends talk on Saturday 12th January. It will now be Peter Burrows-Smith on ‘Birds of Richmond Park – an all new presentation’. Peter has given talks before on the subject but this is a completely new presentation with a new review and photographs of the main birds of the Park. The venue is Pembroke Lodge and time 10.15, as usual. Ron Crompton will give his talk on ‘Stories of Richmond Park’ later in the year.

Dog fouling at night.

Please see the Park Diary below for The Royal Parks’ strong message on dog fouling at night. Darkness won’t be an acceptable excuse!

Duke of Edinburgh litter picker.

We are delighted that a young man working towards his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award contacted us to ask if he could do litter picking in Richmond Park for the volunteer section of his Award. This is a great opportunity for young people to experience and value this unique Nature Reserve. We were very pleased to assist and provide him and his father (who will accompany him) with litter picking kit – volunteer vests, picking sticks, gloves, and rubbish bags. He started in November and will spend 3 months collecting litter on a weekly basis. We also welcomed the whole family as new Friends members.

Don’t miss out on beautiful photos of the Park and its wildlife.

The Friends’ Facebook page regularly features beautiful photos taken by our brilliant local photographers. If you are a Facebook user, either active or passive, please ‘like’ our page and you will see these amazing shots, as well as useful RP information. Go to and click to ‘like’ the page.

Re-design preserves protected view.

Plans have just been sent to the planning authorities for the first major building development at Stratford that had to be re-designed as a result of the Mayor’s tightening of the rules on the Richmond Park to St Paul’s protected view following the Friends campaign in December 2016. The East Bank ‘cultural quarter’ development, originally called Olympicopolis, had to reduce the height of its two 30 and 40 storey towers to 24 storeys. It will house outposts for the BBC, the V&A and its new partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, a 550-seat theatre for dance company Sadler’s Wells and a new campus for the University of the Arts’ London College of Fashion, as well as 600 residential units, half of them affordable homes.

Events Calendar

Next 3 months


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

26 Dec Pembroke Lodge Car Park

05 Jan Robin Hood Gate Car Park

02 Feb Roehampton Gate Car Park

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


Friends’ members only. (New members – join here)
Start at Pembroke Lodge at 10.15am, unless otherwise stated. No need to book – just turn up. Coffee/tea provided.
Usually 45-60 minutes and may be followed by an optional 90 minute walk, where indicated.

12 Jan Birds of Richmond Park – an all-new presentation (Peter Burrows-Smith)

16 Feb Swans (Gemma Nelson).

Richmond Park Diary

Road closure.

The park road between Roehampton car park and Robin Hood roundabout will be closed from Monday 2nd December for 2 weeks. Cyclists will need to detour on the Tamsin Trail and motorists driving through the park will need to travel via the west side of the park. Park visitors will still be able to access the car parks but the route to Broomfield Hill, Robin Hood and Pen Ponds car parks is only available via the southern end of the park. Contractors will be working to exclude badgers from tunnelling under the road. The road is due to re-open for the Christmas period but will reclose in the New Year – with the badgers excluded from causing any more cavities, the road can then be rebuilt.

Winterise your bicycle!

Temperatures are now starting to fall and as we go into December, January and February there is an increasing risk of ice, especially early in the morning. Park staff monitor the weather and the roads and de-icing salt is spread to reduce the risk. However, cyclists (and motorists) should be aware of weather conditions and also be cautious – forecasts are occasionally inaccurate and it would be foolish to assume that every square inch of ice is always defrosted. Rain, leaves washed out soil and debris are also more likely in winter and the dark evenings and rain doesn’t help. There are plenty of cycling websites that advise on winterising a bicycle or even having a second bike for winter riding. Winter tyres and good quality lights are really essential for cyclists using the park for the next few months.

Dog fouling (at night).

Picking up after your dog was made a legal requirement in 1996 and anyone who walks a dog in Richmond Park must bring bags with them and clear up. With the park being open after dusk for pedestrians, many dogs are walked when the road gates are closed. Sadly, we often find larger amounts of dog waste left near our pedestrian gates. We take a strong view that the ‘cover of darkness’ is not a valid reason to not pick up. By using a lead, collar with lights and / or a torch it is simple to observe when your dog has been to the toilet. The Royal Parks and Met Police always act on any information on recidivists and will prosecute anyone not picking up – day or night!

The Royal Parks Calendar 2019.

For the 1st year ever the Royal Parks have published a calendar for 2019. The stunning photos were submitted by park users for our photo competition and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do. The calendar can be purchased via The Royal Parks website.

Christmas Trees.

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. For more information, click here.

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

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

95% 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.

Isabella Garden Walks 2018/2019

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

Walks will take place on:


Friday 7th
Sunday 16th


Friday 4th & 25th
Sunday 20th

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 11.00a.m.

Photo by Getty Images / Oxford Scientific