Photo: Male Purple Emperor Butterfly, by Sherry Pentek




There was great excitement recently amongst the Park’s butterfly enthusiasts when a magnificent male specimen of a Purple Emperor butterfly was found by Sherry Pentek, and her husband Phil, near to Upper Pen Pond. Rarely ever seen in the Park, there have always been questions about whether they breed here, but this was unmistakably a fresh emergence. The wonderful purple colouration of this distinctive large butterfly is dependent on the refraction of the sunlight by its wing scales. The female is slightly larger and has bolder markings, but lacks the purple sheen.’ (Nigel Jackman)

In the June e-bulletin we described the new Heathrow consultation (published on 18 June) on the Airport Expansion itself, including its masterplan for the airport and how it will be operated. The new consultation still proposes new flight paths low and loud over Richmond Park.  We are still absorbing the vast documentation and it will be later in July (not early July as we promised) before we can summarise them for you and let you know what we’d like you to do.

The consultation closes in mid-September so there will be time for you to give your views. In the meantime, we have been working on the case for protecting Richmond Park from the proposed flight paths. One strand is the impact of noise on mental health and we have worked with Dr Alison Greenwood who wrote an article on our website which attracted publicity in the Guardian (see the Guardian article and that in the Richmond and Twickenham Times on our website here). We are also working on the impact of noise on wildlife and have been in communication with the Aviation Minister.


A swan killed a dog in a park in Dublin. A reminder to all dog walkers when in the park, and especially around the ponds, to keep their dogs on a lead for their protection and that of the wildlife. Read about it here. 

TRP MOVEMENT STRATEGY – please give your views by 14 July
We talked in the June bulletin about TRP’s development of a new ‘movement strategy’ for all the Royal Parks. We have since met with Mat Bonomi of TRP to discuss various aspects of ‘movement’ in Richmond Park by all users – wildlife, pedestrians, cyclists and car drivers. But we’d like our members to give TRP their views; we know many members have strongly held views because you tell us them at virtually every get together, talk, walk or chance meeting we have!

Please give your views (and ideas for improvements) via email to by 14 July. They can be about any aspect of movement, including (to list those we most often hear) conditions for pedestrians, car parking, speeding and general behaviour by car drivers and cyclists, public transport, the Tamsin Trail, off-track cycling, conditions on busy week-ends etc. Please feel free to copy us on what you send TRP. As we said in the June bulletin, we will read every email but can’t promise to reply to every one!

The Visitor/Information Centre stocks a wide range of useful and interesting items. Why not drop in on your next visit to the Park? Here are some recent additions:

  • The latest Brooklyn collapsible cups in attractive pastel shades – £9.00 each
  • Exclusive Richmond Park runny honey with honeycomb – £9.00 per jar.
  • 6 new designs to add to the ever popular Richmond Park greetings cards.

The Friends’ team of volunteers were out again this month clearing sections of the Brook. Amongst the items found were: a lady’s shoe, plastic sandwich box, spray can, at least 10 tennis balls, a football, a number of disposable lighters, sunglasses, paint brush, hair brush, alarm clock, 2 CDs and a huge amount of plastic bags. Indeed, plastic bags, whether shredded or whole, seemed to make up the majority of the items found.

As an interesting comparison, they measured the number of these 4 items collected on 2 stretches of the brook, last year and this year. In all cases, except one, there was a significant reduction this year which must reflect the good efforts of the volunteers.

Section 1 Section 1 Section 2 Section 2
Sep 18 July 19 Sep 18 July 19
Cans 51 9 32 18
Glass bottles 3 1 5 1
Plastic bottles 9 1 17 2
Golf balls 82 35 87 103


This year’s Ride London event through Richmond Park is on Sunday 4 August. The large Ride 100 event (25,000 amateur riders) will pass through the Park between 6.15 and 10.30 and the elite Classic (150 professional cyclists, some direct from the Tour de France) will pass though at 14.01 to 14.03 (all timings are from the organisers). The Park will be closed to traffic until at least late afternoon. It’s a great time to be in the Park, walking in the quiet and watching the event.

The new visitor centre is now open, officially opened by the TRP’s Chief Executive Andrew Scattergood in June. It’s located next to the Pheasantry café and will operate on weekends and bank holidays staffed by volunteers from the Friends of Bushy Park. It replaces a ‘box room’ (TRP’s description!) in the Pheasantry building which had been the Park’s visitor centre for ten years. If you are in Bushy, take a look at it. You can read more here


Events Calendar


All are welcome to join our walks. Start at 10.00am from the designated car park unless stated otherwise.                          

  • 03 Aug   Kingston Gate Car Park
  • 07 Sep    Roehampton Gate car Park

TALKS & WALKS – 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, followed by an optional 90 minute walk, unless otherwise indicated.

  • Aug No talks
  • 21 September: Tour of Beverley Brook restoration and re-wilding project led by Toby Hull of South-East Rivers Trust, project manager of the work. Meet at Roehampton Gate café.

Richmond Park Diary – July   

Bracken is a fern that spreads by underground ‘rhizomes’ gradually increasing in area every year.  It shades out other species and becomes a dense monoculture that compromises the wildlife value of the park.  Left unchecked, bracken would take over the park’s grassland by about 1-2 hectares a year.  Starting in July, the Parks Shire Horse team roll large areas of bracken to crush the stems and weaken the plant.  Over time the bracken becomes increasingly smaller and space and grassland is re-created.   Contractors also control bracken by spraying herbicide in areas that are more difficult for the horses to work.  The herbicide used only effects ferns and is not harmful to people or animals. The work is part-funded and approved by Natural England (the Government Agency for wildlife conservation). Finally, we also cut bracken and collect the arisings.  The primary purpose of this is to produce a mulch that is suitable for use in Isabella Plantation and the national collection of azaleas.  The cutting helps to reduce the vigour of bracken, which is not the primary purpose of cutting.

The management of Ragwort divides opinion.  Whilst there are 3 types of Ragwort that are almost indistinguishable from each other, only Common Ragwort is poisonous to livestock if consumed in large quantities.  Horse owners therefore need to eradicate Common Ragwort from grazing land which is a herculean task if one or two plants are left to spread.  However, in Richmond Park Ragwort offers a valuable nectar source where few other large flowers survive the browsing of the deer.  The Royal Parks tries to strike a balance by only removing some plants from key locations such as bridleways.  Ragwort is valued in the Park, but excessively large, dense stems are removed after they have flowered but before they have set seed.

In 2011 The Royal Parks working with the Thames Landscape Strategy built a Sand Martin nest bank at Pen Ponds (part-funded by a grant from the SITA Trust, Father Thames Trust and the Friends of Richmond Park). Sand Martins are a part of the London Species Action Plan. Similar nest banks had already been built and colonised at the Wetlands Centre and Eel Pie Island. Whilst the Richmond Park banks were ready to receive tenants since 2012, we didn’t receive any ‘over spill’ of Sand Martins until 2017 when they first showed interest and a few chicks fledged last year. In 2019 multiple pairs nested and an initial 40 chicks have been surveyed with more still being brooded. So finally, after a long wait, a colony of Sand Martins have become established and will hopefully return every year.

There are around 150 rubbish and dog waste bins in Richmond Park.  The locations are chosen carefully – placed near entrances and around car parks.  Where possible bins are also placed in remote areas of the Park, but these locations are restricted to reasonably popular walking routes where they cross with vehicular access routes for collections.  The park employs seven full-time staff to manage the litter and almost 100 volunteers regularly pick litter keeping it spotless for all. However, the cost and task is considerable and everyone can help:

  • Please don’t drop litter.
  • Please take recycling home – to recycle.
  • Bag and bin all dog waste.
  • Take rubbish home – especially large amounts and on busy weekends

DON’T FORGET– the Park roads are closed to traffic on Sunday 4th August for Ride London.


Isabella Plantation in July

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.

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.

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’. 

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.

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.

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

WHEELCHAIR AVAILABLE.  A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9.00 and 15.00. Please ring 0300 061 2200 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks

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

Sunday 21st
Friday 26th

Friday 2nd & 30th
Sunday 11th

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.


Tread Lightly in Richmond Park