Park News March 2018

Elm Tree sponsorship.

A reminder that the rare opportunity to sponsor an elm tree in the new Elm Walk near Petersham Gate will close on 16 March. Over 30 of the 47 trees have now been taken, so hurry! See further details, including the brochure and application form.

Richmond Park Royal Oak

Photo: Jodi Squirmelia

This ancient oak began life in the thirteenth century, around the time when Henry III was king. It had been standing on this spot some 400 years before Richmond Park was enclosed as a deer park by Charles I in 1637. Read more

Spring Clean postponed

The Richmond Park Spring Clean was to take place on Sunday 4 March but, due to weather conditions, it has been postponed to Sunday 18 March. This year the event is being led by the volunteers of our Adopt an Area litter picking scheme. Enquiries to [email protected]

Photos needed for 2019 Calendar

Please send us your photos for Friends’ 2019 Calendar of Richmond Park. Last year’s calendar was again a great success and raised a substantial amount for projects in the Park. We are very grateful to all who donated their photos and now invite photos for the 2019 Calendar – this will show the amazing diversity of fauna and flora and views in the Park across the seasons.
The deadline for receipt of photos is Friday 13 April 2018. Full details here.

Birds at Bedtime

The first Discoverers event this year will be an early evening walk – ‘Birds at Bedtime’ on Saturday, March 17th. See full details.

Skylark protection

We are now into the skylark breeding season and the signs have gone up around the skylark protection areas on Crown Field by the rugby pitches, and Lawn Field by Lower Pen Ponds. Please help us and give an example to others less familiar with the Park by keeping your dog on a short lead and staying on the paths in these areas.

More schools show Richmond Park film and 'Tread Lightly'

More schools – primary and secondary – have asked us to show and talk about our film, Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve, presented by Sir David Attenborough. This picture shows rapt 6-11 year old children at St. Mary Magdalen’s Catholic Primary School in Mortlake watching the film and asking questions about Richmond Park and the Friends' Tread Lightly conservation and protection campaign. We'll be visiting another 4 schools during March and if you would like us to present and talk about the film at a school or other venue or organisation, please contact [email protected].

Park photos in the press

Last year was a record for photographs of Richmond Park in the national press. We lost count but it must have been at least 20 occasions, including on the front page of the Times and a double photo in December’s Mail online. This year has started in the same vein with a photo of deer in the cold in Richmond Park appearing twice in the Times, most recently on 9 Feb. Richmond Park seems to appear more commonly than any other place in the UK and it is no wonder it features in many online sites for tourists and expatriates and visitor numbers are increasing rapidly. It would be good if the media gave somewhere else a chance!

Richmond Park and mental wellbeing

– article by Chief Exec of Natural England. Natural England’s Chief Executive, James Cross, considers the importance of how natural environments such as Richmond Park are essential for mental health and wellbeing. Read the article here . Natural England is the government’s adviser for the natural environment which, with approved partners such as The Royal Parks, has management responsibility for protecting nature and landscapes in National Nature Reserves including Richmond Park.

Park Open Day

There will be another Richmond Park Open Day on Sunday 23 September, with a basic format similar to previous years but with some new features to be revealed! The Friends expect to be stewarding the event as usual and have our own stalls. If you’d like to volunteer to help and are not on our normal list of volunteers for the event, please email [email protected].


Next 3 months

• 07 Apr Sheen Gate Car Park (+ Walk the Wall)
• 05 May Broomfield Hill 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

• 17 Mar Bird Song 2: Small birds & Spring migrants (Peter Burrows-Smith)
• 21 Apr Buildings of Richmond Park (Max Lankester)
• 12 May An Introduction to the Flora of Richmond Park (Mary Clare Sheahan)
Courses are open to 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)

Share this Bulletin

Please feel free to forward it to your friends and contacts. If they want to receive it on a regular basis they may wish to join the Friends too. We welcome new members, so please spread the word. For easy reference, here’s a link to the benefits of becoming a Friend of Richmond Park, and here’s a membership form to print off.


Richmond Park Diary March 2018

Common Hazel (Corylus avellana) Catkins

Common hazel is a deciduous broadleaf tree native to the UK, and is found in the understorey of lowland oak, ash and birch woodland and amongst scrub and hedgerows. The tree provides an important food source and shelter for wildlife and also has the most prominent catkins. As the catkins mature and the weather gets milder, they open to reveal a primrose yellow fluffing along its length. Each catkin is a flower head, comprised of about 240 small flowers, but it is only the male flowers which dangle and form catkins, it is said like ‘lambs’ tails’.

The female flowers grow in clusters from small buds above the catkins, but both male and female flowers are found on each tree, which means the Hazel tree is monoecious. Hazel trees are pollinated by wind and a single catkin will produce nearly nine million grains of pollen, which certainly helps the pollination with other Hazel trees! Catkins were out and seen last month in some areas of the Park, which is always a sign that spring is not far away. However given the current freezing temperatures and snowfall (at the time of writing), spring still seems far away!

Skylark signs

Signage has been put up around the Skylark Protection Areas, which are: Crown Field by the rugby pitches, and Lawn Field by Lower Pen Ponds. Skylarks nest on the ground and are easily disturbed by people and dogs so as a result, the numbers have significantly declined in Britain, and in the Park, over the years. However since we have introduced the protection zones, the numbers of breeding Skylarks have begun to increase again so please respect the signs, keep your dog on a short lead and stay on the paths in these areas.

Migration of frogs, toads and newts

Frogs, toads and newts come out of hibernation and normally migrate sometime between February and March depending upon the weather. They move to get back to their breeding ponds and will move after dusk when it is damp and warmer than 5 degrees celsius. As there are numerous ponds within the Park, especially near Ham Cross, large numbers of toads will be crossing the roads soon. Therefore if you’re cycling through the Park at night, watch out for them and please be careful not to squash any!

Belted Galloway cows

The four Belted Galloway cows are still grazing the 4-hectare paddock on Sawyer’s Hill near to Holly Lodge. The cows have been grazing, trampling and therefore weakening the more vigorous grasses and coarser vegetation to create some bare ground, which will open up the sward and allow a flower-rich grassland to develop.

Bracken management and harrowing

Bracken dominates large areas of the Park and whilst it provides important cover for the deer and ground nesting birds, it has the ability to encroach upon sensitive areas such as the acid grassland. The shire horses have been preparing some additional areas by rolling then harrowing the dead bracken near to Ham Cross, Broomfield Hill and Holly Lodge. This work will be continued in the early part of March and before the start of the bird nesting season. These areas will then be added to the rolling programme this summer, as one of the techniques used, to control the spread of bracken. See short video.


Please remember the male deer are still being selectively culled this month. Therefore there will still be no access to Richmond Park for cars, bicycles or pedestrians from 8pm to 7.30am each day until Sunday 18th March 2018.

Veteran trees and protection

If you see wooden fencing or metal barriers erected around some of the ancient and veteran trees in the Park, please respect it and do not climb or go inside it. The fencing has been erected to keep people safe from falling branches or tree collapse and to protect the tree and its root system from trampling and compaction of the ground.

“Please tread lightly in Richmond Park National Nature Reserve”


March in the Isabella Plantation


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 peony 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 set back at the top of the main stream path.

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.


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 the Scots Pine


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.