Gorse in Richmond Park

Photograph: Janet Bostock

In the past gorse was used for hedging, creating a solid, rather spiky barrier and it was foraged for a multitude of reasons including fodder for livestock, fuel for fires and kilns and as a traditional dye for clothing. Branches were bound together to make floor and chimney sweeping brushes. Washing was hung to dry on gorse, the thorns preventing it from blowing away.

Prior to the Park’s enclosure as a deer park, there would have been extensive areas of gorse. Gorse was still growing but, browsed by the deer, it was kept short. It has grown tall in three fenced areas west of Holly Lodge, set up by Piers Eley in 1999, and in the “cattle enclosure”, adjacent to Sawyer’s Hill. These areas have become an important nesting and feeding site for whitethroat, stonechat, greenfinches and robins.

To keep them dense management is needed, so the Friends’ conservation volunteers now annually coppice a section of the leggy growth to encourage more dense new growth. Some stumps regrow and there are new self-seeded plants appearing. This year the cuttings have been used to create a dead hedge near Pen ponds.

Works underway in Richmond Park

Bog Gate February 2024

Various pieces of work have been undertaken this winter in Richmond Park. This has included new scrub enclosures planted with native whips to add more structural diversity to the wooded areas and to improve biodiversity.

Restoration of paths and new fencing has been put in at Bog Gate to prevent compaction of tree roots. The fence needs to oxodise for a few months before being painted.

Roehampton Gate Redevelopment

The Royal Parks are planning to replace the current cafe at Roehampton Gate and redevelop the adjacent facilities and landscape. We expect information to be available on The Royal Parks website from Thursday 7th March.

The Royal Parks are planning public engagement days to outline their plans. These will be:

* Thursday 4 April, 1-4pm at Roehampton Café

* Saturday 6 April, 10am-1pm at Roehampton Café

* Friday 12 April, 11am-2pm at Pen Ponds

Butterfly recording – a chance to volunteer

Red Admiral butterfly in Richmond Park 2023. Photograph: Simon Silvester

Once again, the Park’s butterfly recorders are recruiting for the coming season which begins in April. It is so important to be aware of what is happening to these beautiful members of our insect population. It is not too time-consuming, and you do not have to be an expert – just enthusiastic! If you are interested in finding out what is involved, please email butterflyrecorders@gmail.com.