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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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Mistletoe Walk 2008

Mistletoe Walk 2008

Mistletoe at Hampton Court Palace grounds

Saturday 16th February 2008

The Mistletoe walk – for many years led by Tyrrell Marris and again joined this year by Graham Dillamore is becoming one of the Friends annual favourites. Almost sixty of us met at the Lion Gate on a beautiful spring-like morning. It may be tempting fate to say it, but for many years now the weather has been very good. Looking up into the trees to see the mistletoe with a bright blue sky behind it, makes it even more special. The early spring bulbs were out too – crocus, daffodil and snowdrops.

We started walking through the wilderness area and saw mistletoe on young trees no more than six feet off the ground, as well as on trees some hundreds of years old where the mistletoe was growing high up.

York Minster is still the only great church to have mistletoe placed on the altar on Christmas Day. The Church of England used to believe that mistletoe was one of the pagan symbols as it was used to ward off evil spirits and witches, and hung over cow shed doors to bring good luck to the herd.

Tyrrell explained that many Mistlethrushes plant the mistletoe as they only eat the fruit and deposit the seeds – after they have digested the fruit. That’s enough explanation of that!

The seeds are trapped in the crevices in the bark and grow on using their own leaves for growth. The only thing they take from the host tree is fluids, so it does no damage to the tree on which it is living.

Graham took over at this point and led us to the Clore Centre, named not surprisingly after its benefactor, It is in the courtyard behind the door with bright gold vine leaves; startling in the sun. The Clore Centre is an education centre opened by Prince Charles last year. Its reception area has a stunning model of a flying dragon made by local school children, based on the dragon at the top of the painting “The Field of the Cloth of Gold” which is on display at Hampton Court.

We were then led across the courtyard to the old barracks building – actually two, one housing the men from the household cavalry, and the other infantry men. Their horses were stabled below them as they slept 22 men to a room.

The building has been turned into classrooms and a lecture room, and is well used by local schools and lectures and meetings for adults.

Outside again, and still in bright sun we crossed the green to the south west corner of the palace to see a fine old tree a False Acacia which has several large clumps of mistletoe, and while we were watching a mistlethrush appeared, which just proved that Tyrrell was right.

We finished our walk at the now completed Orangery Garden. Last year Graham had shown us the area just after Tudor foundations were found. Those have been recorded by archaeologists and now covered over and the area planted in the original Queen Mary design. There are narrow beds with box surrounds and sparsely planted with bulbs as bulbs were a great rarity and very expensive. In summer Delft plant pots were brought out with delicate plants.

Tyrrell and Graham gave us a most interesting morning, and we hope that may be persuaded to talk to us again next year.

Pieter Morpurgo, February 2008

Why we need more Friends

With more members our voice is stronger when we campaign to protect the Parks, and with more subscription income we can do more to provide information and education about the Parks, their wildlife and their history.

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Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 25th Oct 8:00 pm

TALK by Kate Canning, “Friends to nature – the wonder of bees”

Latest report

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

Full report...

Information Point

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

Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.