For the months of January and February 2011, RHS Wisley has transformed one of its greenhouses into a butterfly house. It is filled with many interesting plants and orchids, with the temperatures set nice and high, and misty water spraying from the roof watering system. It is filled with different species of butterflies, and has attracted many visitors who otherwise would not frequent the gardens at this time of year.
I went on Sunday morning for a couple of hours, until the temperatures overwhelmed me, and the toggers with tripods frustrated me! But don’t let that put you off. There are many wonders to see. The area itself is not particularly large, but there is an upper and lower walkway, with several “feeding” stations where the staff put out fruit to attract the butterflies to land and be observed!
The butterflies themselves range from small glasswings
To the beautiful Blue Morpho
There were a few Tree Nymphs cleverly camouflaged into the plants
There were some that I’ve yet to put a name to
I think my favourite though was the blue Morpho. When its wings are open it looks a beautiful sapphire coloured butterfly, but when it closes up its wings, it appears to be boring brown, with many eyes in its wing patterns. I managed to get up close to the one below and it is possible to see his tongue curled up.
One of my favourite shots is below where the blue is just visible in the opening between his wings.
When seen from behind, you get a real feeling of how these butterflies camouflage themselves, with their wings looking like the edges of dried leaves.
There are many other butterflies in the greenhouse and I’d recommend a visit if you are in the area this month. It doesn’t take long to walk around, but there is no stopping you from walking up and over and starting all over again. The only thing that will eventually persuade you to leave the greenhouse is the tropical heat, and maybe the number of people there, depending on the time of your visit.
For more information, take a look at http://www.rhs.org.uk/wisley