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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Report on "Walking the Mistletoe"

Report on

Mistle Thrush (photo: Pieter Morpurgo)

“Walking the Mistletoe” with Tyrrell Marris, David Ivison and Nicholas Garbutt
Saturday 11th February 2011

The Friends’ first outside event of the year is always a good occasion, joined as always by members of various other groups interested in trees, mistletoe and the ecology. Considering the bitterly cold temperature there was a crowd of 60 people waiting at Lion Gate. Although cold, the sun was out and we knew we would be in for a crisp and most enjoyable morning.

Tyrrell started us off in the wilderness section of Hampton Court Palace Gardens by reminding us that although we would spend most of our time looking up there might be crocus and snowdrops struggling up through the thin layer of snow and frost.

The first bunch of mistletoe we saw was only about six feet off the ground. Most mistletoe grows quite high up. It was interesting to see it in detail with its bright yellow flowers and the famous white berries.

On a nearby poplar tree there were 20 to 30 bunches of mistletoe, which although fairly heavy is nothing compared to the weight of the host tree – perhaps some 30 tons. Mistletoe could harm small trees. It is called a semi-parasite as all it takes from its host tree is liquid.

As we walked through into the formal gardens David Ivison took over. For many years he has been carrying out mistletoe surveys. His group has been counting the mistletoe plants every two years since 2004, and there are many questions still to be answered. In the Broad Walk 10 year old Lime trees were planted in 1987. Of the 199 trees planted 125 now have mistletoe.

As we arrived at the top of the Long Water Nicholas Garbutt, Tree & Wildlife Conservation Manager of Historic Royal Palaces took over and explained that the same sort of survey was going to be undertaken by volunteers on the two avenues of Limes planted on either side of the Long Water. All the mistletoe will be allowed to spread naturally by the Mistlethrushes and Blackcaps, which are particularly good at spreading the seeds around.

We walked out of Home Park and along the river to our usual ending of this walk – the False Acacia – the large tree at the south west corner of the palace. After hearing that we often see a Mistlethrush at this point of the walk, Nicholas said he had a man of his with a bird in a box hidden behind a bush and it would be released when we arrived. We suspected that this was not true as when we arrived at the tree, there was not one bird but two birds in the mistletoe. A great end to a very interesting walk. Many thanks to all three leaders.

Pieter Morpurgo

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Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 23rd Nov 8:00 pm

The Royal Parks in the Great War. Talk by David Ivison

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.Walk in Home Park- 2nd September

Full report...

Information Point

The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors to find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.

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