Photo: Mandarin Duck enjoying the flood water, by Nigel Jackman

In the news:

  1. Launch of Tree of the Month!
  2. Car park repairs
  3. Tree photography competition:  “Spring”
  4. Calling for photos for the 2021 Friends’ Calendar
  5. First Tree Walk 28 March 2020
  6. Meet the Shape Shifters
  7. AGM – 18 April 2020
  8. Movement Strategy
  9. Heathrow
  10. Skylarks’ breeding season
  11. The tragic effects of litter on wildlife
  12. February storms
  13. Bird watch
  14. Award winning photographer…
  15. Visitor Centre news
  16. Calling all butterfly lovers!
  17. Share this bulletin
  18. Walks & Talks
  19. Litter management
  20. Rain, rain and more rain
  21. Storms Ciara & Dennis
  22. Car park repairs II
  23. March in the Isabella Plantation 


Launch of Tree of the Month!  
Starting this month, we will be featuring a Tree of the Month, as part of our Year of the Tree celebration. An opportunity for the whole family to explore, find and learn about different types of tree in Richmond Park through free information sheets, written and illustrated for younger readers, 7-12 years old. Our first Tree of the Month, available now, is about the water-loving Alder. Pick up a free sheet, as well as an introductory colour leaflet, at the Visitor Information Centre or download them from here. Watch out for a different tree on the 1st of every month for the rest of the year!  


Car park repairs
Work on improving Sheen Gate car park has already started and will continue through March; the car park is being properly surfaced with tarmac with marked bays and associated drainage. Broomfield Hill car park will be also be partially closed for a few days and a few key areas of Kingston and Pembroke Lodge car parks are also scheduled for limited repairs. We look forward to puddle-free parking! More information is in the Park Diary below.


Tree photography competition: “Spring”
Open now! – Closing date 31 May – Free entrance.
This is the second of four seasonal competitions to celebrate Year of the Tree, organised by the Friends of Richmond Park. The overall theme is images that show the character of the Park’s trees.  Images can be of any part of a tree, whole trees or groups of trees.  See here for details of how to enter, the prizes and Terms and Conditions.
Thank you for all who sent in stunning photos to the Winter competition. The winner and runners up will be announced shortly.

Tips for photographing trees – Len Jenshel and his partner Diane Cook, the photographers of the recent publication ‘Wise Trees’ say: Trees are willing subjects but don’t be fooled—to create a compelling photograph, you need to take time to get to know them.


Calling for photos for the 2021 Friends’ Calendar
We are now inviting photos of Richmond Park for the Friends’ 2020 calendar. Please see for details of how and where to send them.  Closing date 17 April. We look forward to seeing your amazing images – a maximum number of 8 photos from each photographer, but not more than 4 from any one season: winter, spring, summer, autumn. The 2020 calendar sold more than ever and so raised a record amount for projects in the Park. We are very grateful to all who donated their photos.


First Tree Walk 28 March 2020
The first in a series of guided tree walks, as part of our Year of the Tree celebration, will start from Kingston Gate on Saturday 28 March at 10:00am. The walk will be led by Christopher Hedley who conceived the idea of tree walks in Richmond Park and authored the new tree walk guides, available from the Visitor Information Centre. See here for details of more walks.


Meet the Shape Shifters
Discoverers’ first event of the year for families is Sunday 29 March 29 at 10am until 12pm – ‘Meet the Shape Shifters of High Wood’. See here for details


AGM – 18 April 2020
The guest speaker will be Mark Frith, acclaimed artist and creator of the magnificent drawing of the iconic Royal Oak tree, commissioned by the Friends. (The drawing can be viewed in the Pembroke Lodge tea rooms, above the fireplace). Amongst Mark’s many impressive artworks is his collection of 20 large scale drawings of ancient oaks, exhibited last year at Kew Gardens. It promises to be a fascinating talk.

The AGM will be held, as usual, at Kings School, 68 Kings Road, Richmond TW10 6ES, starting at 10.30am. This year the Friends will not be posting AGM papers to members’ home addresses. Instead they can be downloaded from our website at A few printed copies will be available at the venue for those unable to print their own.


Movement Strategy
TRP has published the second stage of its Movement Strategy, dealing with “Strategic Outcomes’ for all the Parks. The document can be found here. We encourage you to read it (it’s quite short) and the FRP comments, then email your comments before March 25, 2020 to: The first Movement consultation received nearly 7000 responses with by far the most coming from Richmond Park, so let’s keep up the record!

In summary, there are a lot of good Outcomes, e.g. better pedestrian crossings, having car-free days, promoting considerate cycling, using permanent cameras to catch commercial vehicles. But we think there should also be better pedestrian protection on shared use roads and paths, control of cyclists’ speeds on car-free days, car parking charges at weekends and bank holidays, and use of the same cameras for controlling the average speed of vehicles travelling through the Park.

The next stage will be five-year Action Plans for each Park with specific projects. So please submit your comments both on the all-Park Outcomes and their application to Richmond Park.


Heathrow expansion unlawful
Many of you will have read of the anti-Heathrow campaigners’ victory in the Court of Appeal, which ruled that the government’s approval of the Heathrow expansion (the third runway) was unlawful because it did not take into account the government’s own climate commitments. We are cautiously optimistic about the result.

Cautious firstly because Heathrow will appeal (even if the government won’t). Heathrow’s statement pointed out that: ”The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government – including on ‘noise’ and ‘air quality’ – apart from one which is eminently fixable. We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue”. Secondly it is not clear how this will affect the proposal for flights over Richmond Park, which of course is the focus of the Friends’ campaign and where noise and air quality, not climate change, are the main issues.


Skylarks’ breeding season
The skylark breeding season started in late February. Notices will be up soon at Lawn Field (between Lower Pen Ponds and the Ballet School) and Crown Field (across the small stream at the back of the rugby pitches) asking people to keep to the paths and keep their dog on a lead in those two areas. After similar restrictions in previous years, skylark numbers appear to be stable; everyone wants to avoid a return to the mid-2000s when it looked as if the skylark would become extinct in Richmond Park. In addition to their other priorities, such as deer protection, the police have been tasked to keep a watchful eye on these Fields during the breeding season over the next few months.

Please get the message out to your family and friends and to others you meet, especially fellow dog walkers. And if you’re in the area, pause for a moment to listen to the wonderful singing of the skylarks – it’s no wonder it’s such an icon of the British countryside.


The tragic effects of litter on wildlife
Recently in Richmond Park, a visitor spotted, and was able to film, a deer in distress with a plastic bag over its head. The incident was swiftly reported to the Royal Parks and wildlife officers went out to rescue the animal. See Maria GB’s video here


February Storms
The Park escaped the two storms, Ciara and Dennis, relatively unscathed. The major damage was the loss of 3 large trees and a dozen or so smaller trees and some fencing (of course one tree lost is one too many). The Royal Parks management did a fantastic job checking the whole area of the Park (2500 acres no less) for fallen or unstable trees, and were able to reopen the Park again in record time. The storms also caused substantial flooding in low lying and less well drained areas – see website photos.


Bird watch!
See the latest updated edition of ‘The Birds of Richmond Park 2019’, a rolling 10 year study of bird sightings by the Richmond Park Bird Group. It is a detailed record of the many species that have been spotted either breeding or just visiting the Park. Over the years, there have been several changes of species identified and the total number of different species counted in 2019 was 127, barely down from 128 in 2018. See the report here. 


Award winning photographer worked on Richmond Park film
Sam Rowley, who was part of the team that produced the award winning film Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve, has won an award himself. He recently won the ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year 55 LUMIX People’s Choice Award’ for his photo of two mice battling on a London Underground platform. See the amazing shot here.


Visitor Centre News
Just in at the Visitor Centre:

  • New additions to our range of tea towels – “animals of Richmond Park” and “The Royal Oak” a stunning print of Mark Frith’s emblematic drawing of this famous tree. Tea towels £7 each.
  • New Friends spring and summer greeting cards will be in stock from mid-March. Price only £2
  • New eco-friendly nature notecards 8 for £5 and mini notecards 8 for £4.50.
  • Tree of the Month leaflets and fact sheets on this month’s tree, the Alder.


Calling all butterfly lovers!
The Richmond Park Butterfly Recorders need help surveying these beautiful insects throughout the season – from April to October. You don’t have to be an expert – friendly group-support given! For details, please contact Simon Silvester

Red Admiral & Small Tortoiseshell (Simon Silvester)


Events  Calendar

Next 3 months


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

07 Mar     Kingston Gate Car Park

28 Mar     YOTT Tree Walk from Kingston Gate Car Park

04 Apr      Sheen Gate Car Park (+ Walk the Wall)

25 Apr      YOTT Tree Walk from Broomfield Hill Car Park.

02 May     Broomfield Hill Car Park

16 May     YOTT Tree Walk from Sheen 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. The talks are usually 45-60 minutes, followed by an optional 90 minute walk, unless otherwise indicated.

21 Mar     Trees of Richmond Park, – Simon Richards & Gillian Jonusas


Richmond  Park  Diary – March  2020


Litter management
The Royal Parks have recently placed signs on litter bins asking park users to help manage litter.  In recent years the park has become increasingly popular, especially at weekends and the volumes of litter has risen.  The park has around 140 litter and dog waste bins, 6 full time litter staff and the support of many dedicated volunteer litter pickers.  We simply struggle to cope and need to work together to: –

  • Reduce litter – such as bringing your own cup for a park coffee
  • Take recycling home – we simply can’t separate park waste effectively enough, so all waste goes to ‘energy from waste’ facilities. Please take home your domestic recycling.
  • The bins fill faster than we can empty them on busy days so if you create a large volume of litter, please take it home – and if the bin is full please don’t leave any more.
  • If there is a dog bin and a litter bin together, please separate your waste appropriately for hygiene reasons. If there is only either a dog bin or litter bin, then it is OK to mix both types of waste.


Rain, rain and more rain!
The media is reporting that 2020 saw the wettest February on record and for some parts of the country the wettest month on record.  Most people that have known the park for many years, cannot recall as much standing water as we currently have.  The park roads have many gulleys and swales that allow water to run off the tarmac and in key places there are drainage pipes under the road.  Some of these are over capacity causing puddles to sit on the road for much longer than usual – with the added concern of frosts.  Foot paths become muddy and can’t recover grass very quickly in spring.  We also find an increase in potholes and erosion on surfaced tracks such as the Tamsin Trail and horse rides.


Storms Ciara and Dennis
In February, high winds caused some disruption for park visitors when the park needed to be closed for a day and a road was also closed for a few hours the following weekend.  The Royal Parks is aware of the frustration and inconvenience road closures cause people but trust all park visitors appreciate the need to put public safety first and thank visitors for their support. High winds saw many trees and shrubs blown over including around 10 mature trees and the top of one veteran oak snapped out.  A large roadside Pine also lost a limb and became unsafe near Dark Hill and needed to be felled before the road could be re-opened.


Car park repairs II
Long awaited car park improvements are happening!  Sheen car park will be closed all month and will be properly surfaced with tarmac with marked bays and associated drainage. Broomfield Hill car park will be partially closed for a few days to break up the existing unbound surface, re-levelled before an additional layer of self-binding aggregate can be rolled in.  This will hopefully help reduce potholing for some time.  A few key areas of Kingston and Pembroke Lodge car parks are also scheduled for limited repairs.


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 paeony 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.

See photos of the plants mentioned here on the Royal Parks website.

Narcissus bulbocodium subsp. Bulbocodium