September Diary

Lord Rix. One of the Friends’ patrons, Lord (Brian) Rix died in August aged 92. Lord Rix was a renowned actor and theatre impresario, and later became a fierce campaigner for children with learning disabilities and President of Mencap. He became a Friends’ Patron in 1996, when he lived in Roehampton in a house backing onto Richmond Park. He subsequently became President and spoke eloquently at the Friends’ 50th event in 2011 of his experiences and love of the Park. He stepped down as President and became a Patron again two years ago. His wife, the actress Elspet Gray, died in 2013. Obituary

Gel packs. The August bulletin reported that our monitoring of Ride London found a 90% increase compared to last year in the number of discarded gel packs along a 600m stretch of the route in Richmond Park. Our press release was covered in the Telegraph and Mail, local papers and cycling websites. Many cyclists were appalled at the littering.

Richmond & Twickenham Times The Telegraph The Mail Online Daily Mail website
This is Local London Local Guardian Cycling Weekly The Cycling Hub

The event organisers responded to us, and similar concerns from TRP, with a statement apologising for problems with litter picking and promising a dedicated clear-up team for the Park next year, with signs to riders as they enter the Park and cameras to catch litterers. We are now working with them on ideas for better educating riders for the 2017 event.

Autumn Bird Count. The Park’s Bird Recording Group is planning an “Autumn Bird Count” on Saturday 1 October. There will be four groups, starting from the following gates/car parks at 9.00 am:
• Kingston Gate car park (led by John Corkindale)
• Ladderstile Gate (Phil Davies)
• Roehampton Gate car park(Sue Leigh & Mike Howard)
• Sheen Gate car park (Peter Burrows-Smith)
They will be walking pre-set routes to cover the whole park and see as many bird species as possible; then meeting up at the Pen Ponds coffee kiosk late morning to compare notes and make the final count. 64 species were recorded at last year's count.
If you would like to join them, just turn up at one of the locations.

Discoverers Autumn Bat Watch 1st October. Bookings open later this month – details will be posted on the Discoverers web page
This is a free, members only, family event and very popular!

Deer and cyclist accident. A recent article in the Telegraph of an unfortunate collision between a deer and a cyclist in Phoenix Park, Dublin, is a reminder to take care when you're near to deer in Richmond Park, even if it's just passing them on the roadside. See article here

Friends’ 2017 Calendar. The new Friends' 2017 Calendar is now on sale at the Visitor Centre in Richmond Park. The calendar has stunning pictures of the park and its wildlife for you to enjoy throughout the year. Be sure to pick up your copy while stocks last. Calendars are £7.50 each and include photos from no less than 33 local photographers. A great gift to give or receive! Full details HERE
If you would like to be sure of a copy, you can reserve it now. Please click here. You can then collect and pay for your calendar when you next go to the Visitor Centre.

London Duathlon – Sunday 18 September. The Park will be closed to cars and cyclists for the Duathlon. The Friends have met the event organisers and will be monitoring the event. If you require further information about the event, e-mail See also the item below in the Park Diary.

Almost a third of dogs carry ticks. A recent BBC news article reported that almost a third of dogs checked at random across the UK were found to be carrying a tick. The finding comes from the largest survey of ticks in dogs. Almost 15,000 dogs from across the UK were examined in the study, which was carried out by Bristol University last year. See the full article here


(Next few months)

1 Oct Sheen Gate car park (+ walk the wall option)
5 Nov Pembroke Lodge car park
3 Dec Roehampton Gate car park
– All welcome, start at 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise.

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

8 Oct DEER (Peter Burrows-Smith)
22 Oct FUNGI (Janet Bostock and Elisabeth Cheesman)
26 Nov VETERAN TREES (Simon Richards, Park Manager)
Courses meet at Pembroke Lodge 10am – Friends members only – no need to book, just turn up.


Park roads closed. On Sunday 18th September the park roads will be closed all day for the annual Duathlon. This event involves running and cycling a variety of distances on the park roads and is attended by 4,000 participants, generating much needed income for the Park. Whilst the roads and therefore car parks are unavailable for regular visitors, the park is still open and those people that do visit will find it quieter and more peaceful than usual.

White Ash Lodge. It is located in the centre of the Park and is possibly one of the most isolated and rural residential properties in London. Anyone who walks regularly past the lodge will be aware that the property has undergone substantial renovation over several months. Rather uniquely the property also has an outbuilding that includes 2 stables and is well located for riding in the park. It is now been offered for rent and is listed on property websites through Savills Estates agents and is one of the 7 park lodges now rented out on a commercial basis.

Invisible fencing. The benefits of grazing grasslands of high wildlife value with cattle are well recognised and the trial run in Richmond Park in recent years has shown that the rarer, more delicate species increase when cattle graze. Returning cattle to wider sections of the park would involve fences which can be problematic in some situations. They are intrusive to the landscape, require gates or stiles for access which can be awkward and significantly for Richmond Park they restrict the free movement of deer.
The Royal Parks work with Surrey Wildlife Trusts grazing team who have conducted initial trials using an invisible fencing system. It works by burying cables a few inches below the ground and they send a signal to remote collars that are worn by the cows. As the cows approach the boundary they receive an audible signal, acting as a deterrent before an electric shock, similar to electric fencing. It’s early days, but the system could potentially make grazing with cattle in Richmond Park realistic in a way that is acceptable to deer and park users.

Tannins. These are a chemical compound found in some plants, notably oak bark and walnuts husks. They bind with proteins and if eaten have a dry, unpalatable taste. This helps to protect the plant from predation and is also what gives ‘dry’ wines their dry taste. In the case of seeds tannins decompose as seeds ripen, and are why birds and mammals suddenly eat seeds en masse at this time of year.
Tannins are valuable to humans as they bind to proteins in animal hides, preserving them and making them into usable leather, which does not decompose and is more durable. A side effect of some natural tannins is the ability to stain or dye the leather. Oak bark stains a deep black whilst black walnuts husks stain dark brown. So it’s also where the term tan comes from when referring to a change in colour – such as a sun tan. Anyone who has handled oak bark or walnut husks will have stained hands if they don’t wear gloves and it takes several days to wear off, as it can’t be washed away.

Isabella Plantation in September

The heather garden. The summer flowering Ericas and Callunas continue to bloom.
Late flowering trees and shrubs. Magnolia grandiflora, situated on the secluded lawn to the south of Thomson's Pond, has a few last buds opening into large, fragrant, cream coloured flowers, while its decorative fruits form. Look out for Heptacodium miconioides growing below Thompson’s Pond and also the Birthday Mound it is a vigorous shrub which bears lightly scented clusters of white flowers throughout the summer and early autumn. Clerodendron trichotomum has white and maroon fragrant flowers which are followed by bright blue berries, it can be found growing in the glade behind the toilets.

Autumn fruits. Set back from Thomson's Pond, are two stands of Viburnum. Viburnum opulus, the Guelder Rose, bears clusters of glossy red berries at this time of year and differs slightly from the nearby Vibunum sargentii, which has bright red translucent berries. Viburnum betulifolium near the northern entrance to Wilson’s Glade, has pendant bunches of bright red-current-like fruit. In the wild fringes of the Garden, fruits of native trees and shrubs, such as the Rowan and Spindle; Blackthorn and Hawthorn; Wild Rose, Dogwood and Blackberry, all provide food for wildlife at this time of the year. Euonymus planipes, below Peg’s Pond, displays its red seed capsules, while the purple cones of Abies koreana, nearby in the heather garden, are encrusted with white resin. Look out for the Euonymus latifolius set back in the lawn to the left of the path leading from the Top Gate towards Acer Glade. This shrub has long slender leaves that turn red or purple in autumn. At the same time abundant pink clusters of ripe reddish pink, 4 lobed fruits appear which open to reveal white and orange seeds.

The bog garden. Nandina domestica ‘Fire Power’grows in the Island bed in the lawn area looks particularly stunning, with its broad leaves that colour scarlet at this time of year. Ornamental grasses look very attractive at this time of year; look out for Stipa gigantea in the large bed on the lawn side of the middle pond, with its tall golden panicles that last into winter. The feathery flower panicles of Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldshlier’ catch the wind in the streamside bed above the top pond. The tall purple-brown feathery panicles of the grass Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’ show in the Garden’s central and island beds.

Ponds and streamsides. The last flowering spikes of Purple Loosestrife, Joe Pye Weed and Pickerel Weed provide a late source of nectar for insects.

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.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2016

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.
Walks will take place on:
September: Sunday 11th
Friday 30th