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 Roy Berriman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Park in September
London Duathlon The Park will be closed to traffic on September 9 to host the London Duathlon. Although you won’t be able to drive to the park a good walk is thoroughly recommended, as the Park is generally less busy and quieter without the road traffic.
Chicken of the woods is not an animal but a fungus commonly found growing from a wound on oak tree trunks. The young fungus forms a sulphur yellow bracket, with velvet-like edge and pale yellow watery drops oozing from the pores. As it matures it becomes pale and chalky and is dotted with wood louse and beetle holes, eventually it falls to the ground.
This fungus plays an important role in a woodland ecosystem, decaying the heartwood of trees and in the process creating a fantastic decomposing deadwood habitat for invertebrates, plants and other fungi. The colonised tree may continue to grow, adding extra growth rings to the outside of the trunk, while the fungus decomposes the dead heartwood in the middle. The result is a structure like the Eiffel Tower, hollow in the middle, but supported by structural scaffolding around extremities!
Whether the tree can outgrow the Chicken of the Woods, or whether the fungus will gain the upper hand, only time will tell! Though some say that the young brackets are edible, most people cannot tolerate it. When it grows on certain trees such as Eucalyptus, toxins from the wood are absorbed by the fungus and this can cause a more severe reaction when eaten.
Please do not harvest mushrooms or fungi from the Park. The Park has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in recognition of the veteran trees and deadwood habitat they provide to invertebrates. The proliferation of fungus is vital to the continuity of these niche deadwood habitats. Their removal is a criminal offence.
Road works Now that the Olympic cycling road race has passed, contractors are working at night to replace the traffic calming features of the parks roads, all of which were removed to allow the fast Olympic cycle race to proceed.. They will re-install the cobble islands at Roehampton Gate, Richmond Gate and Kingston Gate and a revised pedestrian crossing point near the Kingston Roundabout.
Golf course redevelopment For several years the Richmond Park Golf course has been operating from temporary club house near Roehampton Gate. A planning application to build a new club house on the far side of the course was approved earlier in the year and this autumn work is underway to construct the new club house. When complete, golfers will have their own car park accessible from the A3 at Chohole Gate, freeing up parking for other visitors at Roehampton Gate. The old clubhouse will be demolished and a temporary men’s toilet block will be installed.
September in the Isabella Plantation
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 Viburnum 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 Garden Team and volunteers are helping to deliver improvements to the Plantation’s streams. They have been busy cutting back azaleas within stream channels and also thinning out welcome natives such as Royal Fern all in an effort to let in more light into streams and increase habitat value.
This is all part of a range of pond and stream improvements funded by the SITA Trust. The main body of work will be delivered throughout the autumn/winter of 2012 and includes desilting of the Plantation‘s three ponds, as well as the addition of reed beds to Peg’s Pond.
Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2012
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
September Friday 7 and 28, Sunday 16
October Friday 5 and 26, Sunday 21
Walks last about one and a half hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11am.