The Royal Parks' team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (September issue below) which is displayed on the Park's public noticeboards.
If you are a member of the Friends and would like to receive these monthly diaries by email, please send your name and email address to email@example.com
September in the Park
The London Duathlon The Park roads will be closed to all vehicles on Sunday 11th September for this annual cycling and running event. Pedestrian gates will be open and the Park is usually a little quieter on duathlon day – so if you travel by means other than car, a visit to the Park can be particularly relaxing.
Willow pollards The Beverley Brook is lined with about 130 trees, most of which are Crack Willows. As their name suggests, they have brittle twigs and branches which are prone to breaking, inevitably ending up in the river, and requiring a tedious removal job. To reduce this happening we ‘pollard’ about 10 trees each year. This involves cutting the branches back to a height above the level at which the deer browse. New shoots quickly appear the following spring, creating an ever-changing cycle of different tree sizes and density of canopy along the Brook.
End of the summer September starts to feel more autumnal but when does summer actually end? The equinox for 2011 occurs at exactly 10.04 hrs on Friday 23rd September, marking the exact time when the earth neither tilts towards nor away from the sun and therefore the hours of day and night are equal.
Alternatively the feast of St Michael or Michaelmas Day occurs on 29th September and was traditionally used by farmers to mark the change of agricultural years. Crops should be harvested by this day and any work on the land thereafter would be in preparation for the following year. Harvest festival celebrations occur at this time and Michaelmas daisies which can be seen flowering in some of the Parks ornamental areas are named accordingly.
Finally, it is said that summer continues whilst the foxglove remains in flower. This biannual plant seen frequently in the Park displays a sequence of pink flowers that move further up the stem as the summer moves on – by late September the last flowers at the top of the stem should finally pass.
Deer The stags and bucks now sport fully-grown antlers. They may be seen thrashing them about in the vegetation to build up their neck muscles, for towards the end of the month they will start establishing territories for the rut.
The deer also indulge in dust wallows to assists the shedding of their summer coats as their winter ones grow through. They are vulnerable to disturbance during the rut and the large number of spectators can affect them. Please keep well back from the rutting deer and show them the respect they need to behave normally.
Pen ponds spillway This month, work is due to start at Pen Ponds to build a spillway on both lakes. Engineers will construct a reinforced spillway that will allow exceptionally heavy flood water to flow over the dams without damaging the rest of the bank. Expect machinery to be operating in this area and once completed an area will be fenced off until the soil has re-vegetated.
Sidmouth Woods rhododendron clearance Now that the fence has been replaced around the northern half of Sidmouth Wood, work will start to remove rhododendron from within. Contractors using forestry machinery will clear and burn this dense shrub; funded by grants from the Forestry Commission. Rhododendron Ponticum is a none-native shrub that supports very little wildlife and dominates the understory of woodlands. It changes the soil and microclimate of woodlands that can adversely affect other tree species.
The Isabella Plantation in September
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, four 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.
Growing nearby is Imperata cylindrica ‘Red Baron’ which has narrow erect leaves which are red tipped and become blood red at this time of year. 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.
Please help to support The Isabella Plantation Access Project by dropping your donations into the box by the gate (Information about the Project and donation boxes at the Broomfield Hill and Bottom Gate entrances to the Plantation).