Beech Bay in the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is an ornamental woodland garden, full of exotic plants, that is designed to be interesting all year round.

The Plantation is run on organic principles. Its luscious ground cover and mature trees make good habitat for wildlife and it is part of the Richmond Park Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

Access to the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is open year round.

There is a disabled-badge-holders only car park for the Isabella Plantation, access via Ham Cross. Other visitors should use the Broomfield Hill car park.

Plants in the Isabella Plantation

The garden has 15 known varieties of deciduous azalea and houses the national collection of 50 Kurume Azaelas - introduced to the west around 1920 by the plant collector, Ernest Wilson. There are also 50 different species of rhododendron and 120 hybrids.

December in Isabella Plantation

Winter Flowers

  • Hamamelis mollis, the "Witch Hazel", has very fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill.
  • Mahonia bealii,whose racemes of yellow flowers smell like "Lily-of the Valley", can be found set back in woodland to the south of the Acer Glade Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty' can be found by the Bluebell Walk on the east of the Acer Glade, at this time of year it bears fragrant cream-coloured flowers.
  • Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis', the "Autumn Cherry" can be found growing set back from the path leading to Wilson's Glade from the top gate. Following autumn tints to the leaves, this small tree produces semi-double, white flowers from November to March.
  • Garrya eliptica grows alongside the Main Stream path, this evergreen shrub bears long greyish green catkins at this time of year.
  • Sarcococca confusa, a small evergreen shrub grows alongside the Main Stream and produces very fragrant white flowers this month.
  • A single stand of Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' grows in a glade just off the Main Stream this upright shrub bears densely packed clusters of sweetly scented, rose-tinted flowers throughout the cold winter months.

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 sanguine '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.

Types of plants by season

spring

Camellias, magnolias, as well as daffodils and bluebells. From late April, the azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower.

summer

Displays of Japanese irises and day lilies.

Autumn

Guelder rose, rowan and spindle trees are loaded with berries and leaves on the acer trees are turning red.

winter

Even in winter the gardens have scent and colour. There are early camellias and rhododendron, as well as mahonia, winter-flowering heathers and stinking hellebore.

Birds in the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is a particularly good place to see birds. Resident species include:

  • redpoll
  • bullfinch
  • wood pecker
  • sparrow hawk
  • tawny owl
  • water fowl such as pintail, tufted duck and pochard.

Visiting birds include:

  • wood warbler, redstart and whitethroat in spring
  • blackcap and spotted flycatcher in summer
  • green sandpiper in autumn
  • siskin and reed bunting in winter.

History of the Isabella Plantation

In the 17th century, this area in the south west corner of Richmond Park was known as The Sleyt. This is the name usually used for boggy ground or an open space between woods or banks.

By 1771, it is shown on maps as Isabella Slade . Isabella may have been the wife or daughter of a member of staff. But it is more likely to be a corruption of the word isabel, which was used as far back as the 15th century to mean dingy or greyish yellow - the colour of the soil in this part of the park.

In 1831, Lord Sidmouth, the park deputy ranger, fenced off 17ha (42 acres) of the Isabella Slade . He planted oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees as a crop for timber and gave the area the name it has today.

The present garden of clearings, ponds and streams was established from the 1950s onwards. It is largely the work of George Thomson, the park superintendent from 1951-1971. Along with his head gardener, Wally Miller, he removed Rhododendron ponticum from large areas and replaced it with other rhododendron species. They established evergreen Kurume Azaleas around the Still Pond and planted other exotic shrub and tree species.

The main stream through the garden from Broomfield Gate was dug in 1960 and the plantation was enlarged to include Peg's Pond.

More recently, in 1989, a wild stream was dug in the northern section and this has now been colonized by ferns, water plantains and brook lime. The Bog Garden was reconstructed in 2000.


Isabella Plantation

Beech Bay in the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is an ornamental woodland garden, full of exotic plants, that is designed to be interesting all year round.

The Plantation is run on organic principles. Its luscious ground cover and mature trees make good habitat for wildlife and it is part of the Richmond Park Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

Access to the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is open year round.

There is a disabled-badge-holders only car park for the Isabella Plantation, access via Ham Cross. Other visitors should use the Broomfield Hill car park.

Plants in the Isabella Plantation

The garden has 15 known varieties of deciduous azalea and houses the national collection of 50 Kurume Azaelas - introduced to the west around 1920 by the plant collector, Ernest Wilson. There are also 50 different species of rhododendron and 120 hybrids.

December in Isabella Plantation

Winter Flowers

  • Hamamelis mollis, the "Witch Hazel", has very fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill.
  • Mahonia bealii,whose racemes of yellow flowers smell like "Lily-of the Valley", can be found set back in woodland to the south of the Acer Glade Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty' can be found by the Bluebell Walk on the east of the Acer Glade, at this time of year it bears fragrant cream-coloured flowers.
  • Prunus x subhirtella 'Autumnalis', the "Autumn Cherry" can be found growing set back from the path leading to Wilson's Glade from the top gate. Following autumn tints to the leaves, this small tree produces semi-double, white flowers from November to March.
  • Garrya eliptica grows alongside the Main Stream path, this evergreen shrub bears long greyish green catkins at this time of year.
  • Sarcococca confusa, a small evergreen shrub grows alongside the Main Stream and produces very fragrant white flowers this month.
  • A single stand of Viburnum x bodnantense 'Dawn' grows in a glade just off the Main Stream this upright shrub bears densely packed clusters of sweetly scented, rose-tinted flowers throughout the cold winter months.

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 sanguine '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.

Types of plants by season

spring

Camellias, magnolias, as well as daffodils and bluebells. From late April, the azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower.

summer

Displays of Japanese irises and day lilies.

Autumn

Guelder rose, rowan and spindle trees are loaded with berries and leaves on the acer trees are turning red.

winter

Even in winter the gardens have scent and colour. There are early camellias and rhododendron, as well as mahonia, winter-flowering heathers and stinking hellebore.

Birds in the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is a particularly good place to see birds. Resident species include:

  • redpoll
  • bullfinch
  • wood pecker
  • sparrow hawk
  • tawny owl
  • water fowl such as pintail, tufted duck and pochard.

Visiting birds include:

  • wood warbler, redstart and whitethroat in spring
  • blackcap and spotted flycatcher in summer
  • green sandpiper in autumn
  • siskin and reed bunting in winter.

History of the Isabella Plantation

In the 17th century, this area in the south west corner of Richmond Park was known as The Sleyt. This is the name usually used for boggy ground or an open space between woods or banks.

By 1771, it is shown on maps as Isabella Slade . Isabella may have been the wife or daughter of a member of staff. But it is more likely to be a corruption of the word isabel, which was used as far back as the 15th century to mean dingy or greyish yellow - the colour of the soil in this part of the park.

In 1831, Lord Sidmouth, the park deputy ranger, fenced off 17ha (42 acres) of the Isabella Slade . He planted oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees as a crop for timber and gave the area the name it has today.

The present garden of clearings, ponds and streams was established from the 1950s onwards. It is largely the work of George Thomson, the park superintendent from 1951-1971. Along with his head gardener, Wally Miller, he removed Rhododendron ponticum from large areas and replaced it with other rhododendron species. They established evergreen Kurume Azaleas around the Still Pond and planted other exotic shrub and tree species.

The main stream through the garden from Broomfield Gate was dug in 1960 and the plantation was enlarged to include Peg's Pond.

More recently, in 1989, a wild stream was dug in the northern section and this has now been colonized by ferns, water plantains and brook lime. The Bog Garden was reconstructed in 2000.

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Beech Bay in the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is an ornamental woodland garden, full of exotic plants, that is designed to be interesting all year round.

The Plantation is run on organic principles. Its luscious ground cover and mature trees make good habitat for wildlife and it is part of the Richmond Park Site of Special Scientific Interest. 

Access to the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is open year round.

There is a disabled-badge-holders only car park for the Isabella Plantation, access via Ham Cross. Other visitors should use the Broomfield Hill car park.

Plants in the Isabella Plantation

The garden has 15 known varieties of deciduous azalea and houses the national collection of 50 Kurume Azaelas - introduced to the west around 1920 by the plant collector, Ernest Wilson. There are also 50 different species of rhododendron and 120 hybrids.

December in Isabella Plantation

Winter Flowers

Trees and Shrubs with Coloured and Textured Bark

Heather Garden

Types of plants by season

spring

Camellias, magnolias, as well as daffodils and bluebells. From late April, the azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower.

summer

Displays of Japanese irises and day lilies.

Autumn

Guelder rose, rowan and spindle trees are loaded with berries and leaves on the acer trees are turning red.

winter

Even in winter the gardens have scent and colour. There are early camellias and rhododendron, as well as mahonia, winter-flowering heathers and stinking hellebore.

Birds in the Isabella Plantation

The Isabella Plantation is a particularly good place to see birds. Resident species include:

Visiting birds include:

History of the Isabella Plantation

In the 17th century, this area in the south west corner of Richmond Park was known as The Sleyt. This is the name usually used for boggy ground or an open space between woods or banks.

By 1771, it is shown on maps as Isabella Slade . Isabella may have been the wife or daughter of a member of staff. But it is more likely to be a corruption of the word isabel, which was used as far back as the 15th century to mean dingy or greyish yellow - the colour of the soil in this part of the park.

In 1831, Lord Sidmouth, the park deputy ranger, fenced off 17ha (42 acres) of the Isabella Slade . He planted oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees as a crop for timber and gave the area the name it has today.

The present garden of clearings, ponds and streams was established from the 1950s onwards. It is largely the work of George Thomson, the park superintendent from 1951-1971. Along with his head gardener, Wally Miller, he removed Rhododendron ponticum from large areas and replaced it with other rhododendron species. They established evergreen Kurume Azaleas around the Still Pond and planted other exotic shrub and tree species.

The main stream through the garden from Broomfield Gate was dug in 1960 and the plantation was enlarged to include Peg's Pond.

More recently, in 1989, a wild stream was dug in the northern section and this has now been colonized by ferns, water plantains and brook lime. The Bog Garden was reconstructed in 2000.