Park News May 2018

Photo: Male Orange Tip butterfly, on Cuckoo Flower, with visiting bumble bee, by Nigel Jackman on 25th April near Ham Gate


Event roads closure

On Sunday 13 May the Park roads will be closed all day for the 10-mile Run event, one of the Park's Major Events and now in its second year. The race will use the Park's peripheral road and the Sheen Cross to Pen Ponds to Robin Hood Gate central road, with the event village on the rugby pitches. Without traffic, it's a good time to be in the Park, especially on the western side away from the race! For details, see here.



The Holly Lodge Centre's annual Reflections event is on Tuesday 5 June at 7pm in the Belvedere Suite at Pembroke Lodge. It features music to suit every taste, from beautiful operatic arias to the driving beat of boogie-woogie blues, plus poetry and storytelling. There's a welcome drink, buffet supper and wine, and the beautiful views from the terrace in the early evening. CLICK HERE for more details and to book tickets.


Friends' stalls on 7 and 12 May

There will be a FRP 'pop up' table/stall on 7 May at Broomfield Hill car park, giving information etc., during the peak Isabella season. Also FRP are at the Richmond May Fair on 12 May and the Visitor Centre volunteers will be there selling various FRP/park related items.


Attention early risers!

Come and join us to experience the magnificent dawn chorus on Monday 7 May, meet at Sheen Gate at 4.15am. It’s a magical time to be in the Park and a memory to treasure.


Want to learn about the Flora of Richmond Park?

Come along to Mary Clare Sheahan’s course: “An Introduction to the Flora of Richmond Park”. It’s at Pembroke Lodge on Saturday 12 May, starting at 10.15am. All Friends’ members welcome. (Not a member? JOIN HERE)


Friends' film – best in the UK?


On 11th May, the finals of the national Charity Film Awards 2018 take place at Central Hall Westminster and our film, Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve, is a nominated finalist to win its category of best 'Longform' film as well as the 'People's Choice' award. If we win an award, this will give us tremendous publicity and help us spread David Attenborough's 'Tread Lightly' conservation message.

You can still vote before 11th May. Simply click here to vote

If you haven't previously voted, you'll need to register (which takes a couple of minutes). If you voted in the first round of public voting a few months ago, you will need to vote again in this final round. Please tell all your friends and family and spread the word!

Tread Lightly – an alternative approach

Taking the lead from The Friends of Richmond Park and its 'Tread Lightly' campaign, Kingston-based craft beer maker, The Park Brewery, has launched a special new beer called ‘Tread Lightly’. It is low in alcohol (3.2%) and, with locally sourced ingredients, has a low carbon footprint. The bottle’s label includes text promoting our Tread Lightly campaign as well as a link to view our film. It is available from local independent bottle shops and Pembroke Lodge. For stockists please visit

Elm Walk

We reported in the last bulletin that all the 47 elm trees have now been planted in the new Elm Walk. During April and May, individual ‘planting completion ceremonies’ are taking place for each of the tree sponsors and a commemorative board has now been installed at the Petersham Gate end of the Walk. Do go along and be among the first to see this magnificent Walk.

Dangerous caterpillars

Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) caterpillars are present in Richmond Park in late Spring and early Summer. As well as damaging the oaks they feed off, they are a danger to both people and animals and should not be touched. Their long hairs can cause severe skin reactions requiring medical treatment. Read more in the May Park Diary below and also on our website.

Annual Spring Clean

On 15 April Friends’ volunteers undertook the second annual Spring Clean of the Park, gathering up quantities of discarded litter and filled dog poop bags which had failed to be placed in park bins. This year our Adopt an Area volunteers, their friends and families, plus other members of The Friends, took part and gave the Park a thorough going over. Whilst ample quantities of litter were collected, there was a good deal less than was collected in last year’s Spring Clean. This is testament to the Adopt an Area scheme (started in August 2017) and the good works of its volunteers who regularly collect litter in their ‘adopted’ areas, week in and week out.

Spring bird count

71 species of birds were recorded in the Park on Saturday 28 April during the fourth annual Spring Bird Count, organised by the Richmond Park Bird Group. This excellent number included various returning summer visitors to the Park such as warblers, hobby, cuckoo, sand martin, swallow and common tern, and passage migrants such as wheatear, whinchat and ring ouzel. An ongoing record is kept of sightings See here the last 10 years.

Become a member of the Friends of Richmond Park

We welcome new members, here’s a link to the benefits of becoming a Friend of Richmond Park, and here’s a membership form to print off.



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

  • 05 May Broomfield Hill Car Park

  • 07 May Sheen Gate (Dawn Chorus meet 4.15am)

  • 02 Jun Pen Ponds Car Park

  • 07 Jul Robin Hood Gate Car Park

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

TALKS & COURSES – Friends members only. (New members – join here)

Start at Pembroke Lodge at 10.15am, unless otherwise stated. No need to be booked – just turn up. Coffee/tea provided.

  • 12 May An Introduction to the Flora of Richmond Park (Course by Mary Clare Sheahan)

  • 30 Jun Butterflies (Course by Nigel Jackman)

Courses consist of a 30 minutes talk indoors followed by a 2 hour walk. Talks are usually longer than 30 minutes and are not followed by a walk.



Spring is when everything is growing and bursting into life. Birds are singing, leaves are unfolding, butterflies are starting to be seen and mammals are beginning to wake from their winter sleep.

Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis)

This native flowering plant is common throughout the UK and generally comes into bloom around the same time as the arrival and call of the first cuckoos, hence the name. It is however also known as Lady's smock, Milkmaids, Fairy flower and Mayflower. It is an attractive wildflower with pale lilac or occasionally white petals, which grows 40-60cm tall, and is found in wet grasslands, damp meadows (the name pratensis is Latin for ‘meadow’), pond margins, ditches, along roadsides and banks of rivers and streams.

It was once used as a substitute for watercress, as the young leaves have a peppery taste. In folklore, it was said to be sacred to the fairies and so was considered unlucky if brought indoors. For the same reason, it was never included in May Day garlands. It is however of value to wildlife and an important food plant for the Orange-tip butterfly so is a welcomed addition to any park or garden.

Respect the Dogs on Leads Signs 

A number of signs have been installed in sensitive areas around the Park, as it’s that time of year again when birds are nesting, which typically runs from February to August each year, and when the deer are starting to give birth. Please respect these signs and ensure dogs are kept on a lead to avoid disturbance to the deer, especially in nursery areas, and to birds in nesting areas such as the ponds and grasslands near White Lodge. Non-compliance could result in prosecution under The Royal Parks Regulations.

Oak Processionary Moth

The caterpillars of this invasive Moth are now on the move and towards the end of the month may start to become visible “processing” around the trunk or branches of oak trees. The hairs of the caterpillars carry a toxin, which can be a threat to human and animal health, causing skin rashes, eye irritation and respiratory problems. During April to mid-May targeted pesticide spraying is taking place on oak trees in busy areas and where they have previously been heavily infested.

During the spraying operation, areas of the Park may be temporarily closed to the public so please contact the Park office on: 0300 061 2200 for the most up to date information. The spraying will be followed by careful surveying of the whole Park and removal of nests by specialist operatives using protective clothing & equipment. If you come across the caterpillars or their webbed nests, please do not touch them and keep children and pets away.


The four Belted Galloway cows, which are grazing the 4-hectare paddock on Sawyer’s Hill near to Holly Lodge will be leaving the Park on 15th May, and going back to Surrey. The cows have grazed, trampled and weakened the coarser vegetation to create some bare ground. This has the desired effect of opening up the sward to allow a flower-rich grassland to develop. The cows will however be returning at the end of the year again to continue grazing this site over the winter.


There are 600 Red and Fallow deer in the Park. From late May to July, the deer give birth to their young and can often be hidden by their mothers amongst the bracken and long grass. The young are vulnerable to disturbance from humans and dogs so please respect the deer and always keep at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range. Deer can feel threatened by dogs so please respect the signs and keep your dog on a lead, and stay clear of the remote quiet places where the deer are more likely to have young.

Park road closures

The Park will be closed on Sunday 13th May for the London 10 Mile Run, which is only the second year of this event being held in the Park. If you would like to register and run in one of London’s most beautiful parks, please visit:


“Please take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time”




On the lawn above Thomson’s Pond are two beds planted with the Japanese species, Rhododendron yakushimanum, amongst a group of its hybrids named after the Seven Dwarfs: Sneezy, Grumpy etc. These plants are compact and very floriferous. Also, seek out the tall ‘Loderi’ hybrid ‘King George’, with its large soft pink flowers which are sweetly fragrant. It grows in a number places in the Garden but most notably set back above the Still Pond. Follow the Small Stream down from the Still Pond to discover Rhododendron williamsiananum, a compact species with attractive bronze young shoots, distinctive heart shaped leaves and bell-shaped, shell-pink flowers. Look out for Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ growing in a number of areas in the garden, this shrub produces compact trusses of rich crimson funnel shaped flowers with maroon spots.

Evergreen Azaleas

Easy to identify are:

  • ‘Orange Beauty’, the most orange of all;

  • ‘Rosebud’, opening buds resemble tiny roses;

  • ‘Palestrina’, white with a faint ray of green;

  • ‘Vuyk’s Scarlet’, large flowers of a deep silky red;

  • ‘Hinode Giri’, bright crimson, around the Still Pond

Deciduous Azaleas

These flower slightly later and often have a rich spicy smell, particularly Azalea pontica, (Rhododendron luteum), which is yellow and to be found by the gate to Broomfield Hill.

The Bog Garden

Look out for Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, growing in the bed by the middle pond it bares orange-red flowers and has a reddish tinge to the emerging young shoots. Alongside the margins of pools and streams grows the “Japanese Primrose”, Primula japonica ‘Millers Crimson’ with its whorls of crimson flowers which are borne in profusion on tall stems, from May to July. Also present are the young fronds of the “Shuttlecock Fern”,

Matteuccia struthiopteris which show an attractive fresh green. Growing either side of the main pool is the “Ornamental Rhubarb”, Rheum Palmatum a robust herbaceous perennial with broad, architectural foliage and pink flowers on large erect panicles.

The native tree the “Whitebeam”, Sorbus aria grows near the Broomfield Hill gate and looks particularly attractive at this time of the year with its silvery-white young leaves. Skimmia japonica can also be found growing near this gate along the path that leads onto Camellia Walk and the Still Pond

The “Foxglove Tree”, Paulownia tomentosa stands in the glade between the Still Pond and Old Nursery Glade. This large leaved tree bares sprays of fragrant foxglove-like pinkish-lilac flowers in Spring.

The “Pocket Handkerchief Tree”, Davidia involucrata, set back from the Camellia Walk, has intriguing white hanging bracts. Another specimen may be found in a secluded lawn to the southeast of Thomson’s Pond.

The “Snowdrop Tree”, Halesia carolina, with dangling white bell flowers, stands by the path above Thomson’s Pond.

Cornus nuttallii, whose white bracts appear like flowers, can be found set back in the newly planted Magnolia Glade near the Ham Gate entrance. Also look out for the pale lemon yellow fragrant flowers of Magnolia wilsonii ‘Yellow Fever’ and the wonderful deep purple flowers of Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’.

Bluebells carpet the wilder fringes of the Garden. PLEASE KEEP TO THE PATHS TO AVOID TRAMPLING THEM.

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.


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

Friday 4th and 25th
Sunday 6th

Friday 1st and 29th
Sunday 10th

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.