The Royal Parks team in Richmond Park produces a monthly diary (February 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 Chris Mason at [email protected]
Richmond Park in February
Pembroke Lodge entrance and car park is undergoing refurbishment for approximately ten weeks. The entrance will be improved to help with the heavy use by pedestrians and cyclists.
By upgrading the materials and increasing the pedestrian/cycling area, we hope that there will be more circulation space for everyone. The benches and cycle racks will be relocated, and additional drainage installed. Accessible, surfaced parking spaces for disabled users will be located opposite the entrance.
There will be some disruption and the car park is reduced in size until the work completed, but we trust that the need to carry out these essential improvements is appreciated. Pembroke Lodge, the kiosk and Visitor Centre are open as usual.
Ham Ponds Following the silt and invasive plant removal from the 2 ponds near Ham Gate, contractors will be constructing head walls and sluices to both ponds. This will allow the water levels to be easily lowered so that any residual invasive plants can be controlled.
Horse ride reconstruction Providing the ground conditions allow, the horse ride from Robin Hood Gate to Martin’s Pond is due to commence in mid-February. The work will also ensure that water flowing from Broomfield Hill is directed into the ditch and new pond. This should keep the pond water level higher for a greater part of the year and reduce erosion on the horse track.
Sidmouth Woods The forestry contractor is due to finish this year’s Rhododendron ponticum clearance by mid-February. This completes the 3rd year of this essential woodland restoration work. Volunteers from the Friends of Richmond Park and the Richmond Environmental Network will be planting young trees in the cleared areas. The trees being native shrub-forming species will improve the woodland for wildlife once fully grown.
Jackdaws are one of the most numerous birds in the Park. They are the smallest of the British crow family and easy to recognise with their pale eyes and silvery sheen on the back of the head on their otherwise totally black bodies.
Stand beneath a large flock of jackdaws on a wintry day and they create a gothic melancholy atmosphere. It is otherwise easy to overlook the jackdaw but they have an interesting social life. They are known to pair up for life and even within a large flock, pairs can be seen. Occasionally when a flock roost in a tree the pairs are all obvious.
Although intelligent birds, their gregarious and noisy character is referred to in popular culture. An old adage “The Swan will sing when the Jackdaw is silent” refers to wise people speaking only when fools have become silent.
February in Isabella Plantation
Trees and shrubs with coloured and textured bark
The pollarded willows on the banks of Peg's Pond are forms of Salix alba, with amber and red stems.
Yellow-stemmed dogwood, Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea', grows nearby under the weeping willow, and in the Bog Garden.
Red-stemmed dogwood, Cornus alba, is set back behind the heathers, and throughout the Bog Garden. Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ has orange and red stems which show throughout the winter months and can also be found in the Bog Garden.
The “River Birch”, Betula nigra, has papery shredding buff coloured bark. Two of these trees grow on the north side of the Main Stream; one above the Heather Garden and the other towards the top.
Three “Himalayan Birches”, B. jacquemontii, with striking white stems, stand on the lawn above Thomson's Pond.
The “Tibetan Cherry”, Prunus serrula, has gleaming mahogany-red bark beginning to peel into curly shreds. One is set back on the lawn to the north east of Thomson's Pond. Three other good specimens may also be found in Wilson’s Glade.
Acer hersii, at the north end of the Acer Glade path, is one of several 'snake bark' Acers in the garden.
Erica x darleyensis comes into flower in its pink and white forms.
Tawny seed heads of Erica vagans remain decorative all winter.
The tall “Portugal Heath”, Erica lusitanica, bears slightly fragrant tubular white flowers opening from pink buds throughout winter.
Clumps may be found towards the top of the Heather Garden, near the junction of Thomson's Stream and the Main Stream.
Nandina domestica “Sacred Bamboo”, is planted behind the heather in several places, is truly a plant for all seasons. Decorative evergreen leaves are tinged purple in spring and autumn, panicles of white flowers open in the summer to provide orange red berries throughout winter.
Hamamelis mollis, the “Witch Hazel”, has fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill.
Lonicera X purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ is a shrubby honeysuckle which bears tiny white fragrant flowers throughout winter. A group of these shrubs grows by the Acer Glade path.
Rhododendron dauricum ‘Midwinter’ is a semi–evergreen or deciduous Rhododendron which grows on Bluebell Walk and looks stunning this month with its phlox purple flowers.
Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ flowers pink in bud and fades to white grows alongside the main stream path above the Bog Garden. The name refers to the one time practice of forcing this plant for decoration.
Camellia japonica ‘Nobilissima’, with white peony form flowers grows in the woodland ride to the north of Thomson’s Stream.
The williamsii hybrid Camellia ‘Parkside’ bears an abundance of semi-double flowers in a clear pink and can be found growing in the glade next to Thomson’s Lawn. Many other Camellias are beginning to flower around the gardens.
Cornus mas the “Cornelian Cherry” grows in the shelterbelt near the gate to disabled car park. It produces lots of small yellow flowers on the naked stems throughout February.
Look out for the daffodil Narcissus cyclamineus growing naturalised in the lawns to the left of the Top Gate which bare delicate rich golden pendulous flowers.
Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2014
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year. Walks will take place on:
March: Friday 7th and 28th, Sunday 16th
April: Friday 4th and 25th, Sunday 20th
Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11am.
©The Royal Parks