Ivy (Hedera helix)
Ivy, however, is one of the UK’s few native evergreen plants, and is found within the park. It was originally used to help celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival, to ward off evil spirits and to celebrate new growth, but today it can be commonly seen clinging to buildings, walls and trees.
Ivy can grow to a height of 30 metres, as it has climbing stems with specialised hairs that helps it stick to surfaces. Sadly, this woody climber is a much maligned species and is often accused of strangling trees.
Ivy should however be celebrated and valued for the pivotal role it plays in providing insects, birds, bats and other small mammals with food and shelter, especially in winter. Only mature ivy produces flowers, from September to November, which provides nectar and pollen for bees, hoverflies and common wasps. It is also an important food plant for some butterfly and moth larvae such as the Holly blue.
The high fat content of the berries, which ripen from November to January, provide a nutritious food resource for birds including thrushes, blackcaps, woodpigeons and blackbirds so don’t forget to celebrate ivy this month along with Christmas too!
A contractor is currently working to clear and burn the Rhododendron ponticum across Spankers Hill Wood, which is a non-native invasive plant that has formed a dense cover throughout this wood.
Rhododendron prevents native plants and trees from establishing and thriving, has negative impacts upon wildlife and also acts as a host and vector for diseases such as Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum), which can affect our native oak trees.
This work is being funded by the Forestry Commission, as part of a 5-year English Woodland Grant Scheme, to control the rhododendron and sustainably manage the woodlands within the Park.
The red and fallow deer have now come to the end of the rut and have eaten well so you may now see the deer lying down, resting or even having a sleep!
Please respect the deer and keep at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range.
Every day throughout December, Capital Christmas Trees will be open and selling British grown Christmas trees at Roehampton Car Park.
The trees range in height from 3ft - 12ft as pot-grown or cut-trees and you can choose from Nordman Fir, Fraser Fir to Noble Fir or Serbian Spruce. Each tree is hand selected to ensure it is of the highest quality, and it comes with a care label and a unique number so you can check online where your tree was grown.
After the festive season is over, you can also take your tree back to any Capital Gardens Centre by 14 January for chipping.
For more information, please visit our Christmas Trees page.
Horse and carriage rides
In liaison with Operation Centaur, horse and carriage rides will be operating in Richmond Park from Saturday 2 December through to Saturday 30 December on various days.
If you’d like to have a unique experience to explore the park with the majestic Shire horses and see the beauty and wildlife up close whilst under the warmth of a blanket, please visit our upcoming events calendar for more information and to make a booking although be quick, as the places are selling out fast!
A Christmas Concert is being held in support of the Holly Lodge Centre on Wednesday 6 December at 7:00pm at Christ Church, 69 Christchurch Road, East Sheen, SW14 7AN. There will be choirs from local schools and festive readings.
Tickets cost £20 (£5 for under 16’s) and include wine, mince pies and Christmas cheer and can be booked online from the Holly Lodge Centre.