Photo: Amanda Boardman @mandsby, Friends 2021 Calendar – December

A  Happy  Christmas  to  all  our  readers


Friends’ unique Christmas gifts, calendar and cards
(update: Visitor Centre and Online Shop are now CLOSED until further notice )

There are two ways to buy Friends’ gifts and three ways to buy our 2021 calendar and Christmas cards:

  • in person at the Visitor Centre – open, Thursday & Friday 11:00 -15:00, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 -15:00. It’s operating with a table at the door. Sorry the Visitor Centre is now closed until further notice, due to Tier 4 Covid restrictions (19/12/20)
  • online shop (update – online shop SOLD OUT 18/12/20)
    • click and collect at the Visitor Centre
    • home delivery by Royal Mail (only for calendars and cards); orders are shipped twice a week (Monday and Thursday) by first class mail.
Our Christmas gifts include vine woven deer (small, medium and large), The Royal Oak print, Richmond Park honey, bespoke tree decorations and the latest for the children – the RSPB singing birds with 18 bird varieties including Robins.
The two online options have been very popular, especially click and collect, which we only started ten days ago. It’s useful for those who want to reserve items which are selling fast. Collection times at the Visitor Centre are, 13:00 – 15:00 Thursdays, 10:00 – 12:00 Saturdays.
All profit goes to conservation projects in the Park. Please note that we are low on stock of some items, so hurry if you want to buy!
Traffic restrictions consultation
A reminder that The Royal Parks’ public consultation on the 6 months trial of traffic restrictions in Richmond Park opened on 16 Nov. This formal consultation will gather feedback from park visitors, residents and stakeholders. Through the six-month project period The Royal Parks (TRP) is also collating park stakeholder feedback, and undertaking an evaluation of the external implications of the trial in partnership with relevant transport authorities (eg. TfL and local boroughs).
We encourage you to provide your feedback here , but before you do, please read the Friends position.
At the end of the trial in February 2021 TRP will determine if they should extend, alter, make permanent or revoke the trial.
Closure of Ham Gate toilets
The Royal Parks have permanently closed Ham Gate toilets. They say the toilets “were first proposed for closure back in the mid-1990s and have remained largely un-refurbished since then and certainly don’t comply with most modern expectations regarding access for those of restricted mobility.”They are now “caught in a situation where our income is hugely diminished and there is scrutiny of every area of expenditure” and so the toilets have had to be closed. The other 8 toilets in the Park remain open. We reported in our October bulletin on TRP’s dire financial situation; it has lost almost two-thirds of its income this year because of the cancellation of the Hyde Park concerts, Winter Wonderland, the Half Marathon and Ride London.
AGM 2021
Our 2021 AGM will be 11am Saturday 24 April 2021 by Zoom.  Further details will be provided to members nearer the time.
Dog killed by deer (23 Nov)
Sad reports of a dog being killed by deer when it ran into a large group of red and fallow deer. What can dog owners do to prevent these tragic incidents? Park manager Simon Richards: ‘We urge all dog walkers to have their dogs under close control, and if there is any doubt about the temperament of their dog, it should be on a lead at all times, or walked elsewhere’. Read more in Richmond Nub News article.P
Friends Facebook exceeds 12,000 followers
In November our Facebook page reached 12,000 followers and the number is growing. This is good news because the more followers we have, the more people we can reach to get our messages across, such as ‘respect the Park’ and ‘tread lightly’. If you use Facebook and have not yet ‘liked us’, please go here and like our page.
Have you heard the Green Woodpecker?The Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) has a distinctive ‘laughing’ call that has earned it many different names in English folklore, including yaffle, laughing Betsy and yaffingale. Listen to it here (you may need to turn on the sound, bottom right of photo)
The presence of Ring-necked Parakeets in the Park evokes very mixed responses, but they are definitely here to stay. However, especially during the winter months they become day trippers to Richmond Park just like its human visitors. At this time of the year they spend their nights in huge communal roosts. Many or all of our parakeets probably roost in the dormitory beside the Hogsmill river in Kingston, just a short flight from Kingston Gate, or in Hounslow. As the afternoon light fades the roost starts to draw in parakeets from miles around, the sound levels rising all the time, and eventually as many as 2,000 or even 3,000 birds settle down there for another night.
Friends Calendar feature
The Friends’ Richmond Park Calendar features in this month’s TW11 and TW1 & 2 magazines. A short article by Vivienne Press gives an interesting insight to the calendar and includes some of its stunning photos. See the online version.
Tree of the Month
The December Tree of the Month is the Holly Tree. Holly is a native British tree, common in southern England. It is quite easy to recognise with its spiky evergreen leaves and red berries in Winter. It often grows in hedgerows and underneath oak and beech trees in woods. Holly is a dioecious tree that is either male or female. Other dioecious trees include willow, poplar and yew.  more here.
Quarterly Newsletter – online option
Friends members currently receive  Spring, Summer and Autumn Newsletters as a printed booklet. If a member would like to receive them instead as a pdf document that  can be downloaded, please email Chris Mason at with the Subject heading “Online Newsletter Only”.

See examples of newsletters as pdfs here on our website


Richmond  Park  Diary

The Richmond Park Diary is produced each month by The Royal Parks and posted on the Park’s noticeboards  ©TRP / PAC
Winterise your bicycle!
Temperatures are now starting to fall and as we go into December, January and February there is an increasing risk of ice, especially early in the morning.  Park staff monitor the weather and the roads and de-icing salt is spread to reduce the risk.  However, cyclists (and motorists) should be aware of weather conditions and be cautious – forecasts are occasionally inaccurate and it would be foolish to assume that every square inch of ice is always defrosted.  Rain, leaves, washed out soil and debris are also more likely in winter and the dark evenings and rain doesn’t help.
There are plenty of cycling websites that advise on winterising a bicycle or even having a second bike for winter riding.  Winter tyres and good quality lights are essential for cyclists using the park for the next few months.
Christmas tree sales
Christmas trees have returned to Roehampton Car Park and have been trading since the end of November with the concession ‘On Cloud Pine’ also offering a delivery service. . If you are at all concerned about Coronavirus, vulnerable or shielding someone who is, then delivery may be a great option for you.  The trees range in height, species and pot-grown or cut-trees.
Ham Gate toilet closure
Regrettably, the Royal Parks have made the difficult decision to close Ham Gate Toilet. This will allow us to invest around £100k in the refurbishment of 4 other toilet blocks in the New Year. The Royal Parks funding is now largely generated from commercial income streams which have been impacted this year. It is increasingly difficult to offer the same services to the same standards that many visitors will have experienced in the past. The next nearest are at Pegs Pond in Isabella Plantation which is 0.5 miles / 10mins walk away.  There are also toilets at Kingston Gate, Petersham Gate and Pembroke Lodge which are all within a mile.
The Robin
It is small brown resident bird with a striking red breast – known and loved by just about everyone because of its abundance and tendency to visit gardens, often following gardeners looking for worms in dug soil. Robins are often depicted on Christmas cards for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, its bright red breast and tendency to be seen a lot in winter makes it familiar to us. Victorian postmen wore bright red tunics and gained the nicknames of Robin redbreast. Being busy around Christmas bringing cards and presents by post, the robins started to be portrayed as delivering cards to us.Secondly, there is also folklore that the robins got their red breast from blood stains when they tried to assist Christ by removing the thorns from the crown of thorns during the crucifixion. This further adds to their charm and popularity as a caring bird but because Christ died, it also adds to the superstition that a visit by a robin (such as one entering the home) foretells the passing of a loved one.

December in the Isabella Plantation

From the Royal Parks’ Monthly Plant Diary


Trees and Shrubs with Coloured and Textured Bark

Salix alba ‘Chermesina’ (‘Britzensis’), the pollarded willows by Peg’s Pond, have amber and red stems.

Cornus sericea var.’Flaviramea’ nearby under the weeping willow, and also adjacent to the Bog Garden, has smooth greenish yellow stems.

Cornus alba ‘Siberica’ has bright red stems. Two groups are set back behind the Heather Garden, others in the Bog Garden along with Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ with its brilliant flame red, orange and yellow stems.

Betula nigra, the “River Birch”, has papery shredding buff coloured bark. One may be found by the path above the Heather Garden, and the other towards the top of the Main Stream.

Betula jacquemontii, three young birches with striking white bark stand on the lawn above Thomson’s Pond. Several multi-stemmed forms of this tree can be found in the woodland area near the wild stream in the northern part of the Garden.

Prunus serrula, set back on the lawn east of Thomson’s Pond, has gleaming mahogany-red bark peeling into curly shreds.
Several ‘snake-bark’ acers may be found throughout the Garden as well as other species of birch, all with interesting bark.

Acer griseum, the “Paperbark Maple” grows in the wet lawn area by the top gate and also in Wilson’s Glade, as well as other areas of the garden. This beautiful tree not only has good autumn colour but also a great colour to its trunk, which is particularly obvious in the winter months, as the old bark peels off to expose the cinnamon coloured underbark.

Heather Garden

Erica X darleyensis comes into flower this month in its pink and white forms.
Erica vagans, the Cornish Heath, has tawny seed heads which remain decorative all winter.

Erica lusitanica, the tall Portugal Heath, bears slightly fragrant tubular white flowers opening from pink buds throughout the winter.

Nandina domestica, the “Sacred Bamboo” provides a stunning backdrop to the heathers in this area, its leaves tinge red in autumn and winter and it also bears a profusion of spherical red fruits.

Erica X darleyensis  ©TRP