Garden Bloggers Bloom Day January 2012
Viburnum Davidii - Blue is the colour

Behind the scenes at the Wisley Butterflies

One of the talks that I give to gardening and WI groups is about gardening for wildlife, and butterflies feature in that talk, but today I got to see some rather different and exotic butterflies and learn a bit about what goes on behind the scenes at Wisley to get these wonderful creatures into their glasshouse to amaze the public in the depths of winter.

The butterflies are sent in Chrysalis form, from Belize to Wisley via the experts at Stratford Butterfly farm. When they arrive, they are hung upside down (stuck on with non toxic copydex) in an emergence cage which is kept warm and humid. These green chrysalis will be Blue Morpho Butterflies in a couple of weeks.


When they do emerge, they need to hang for a few hours for their wings to dry out, before they fly.

(Owl and Malay Lacewing newly hung from the emergence cage)

When they've warmed up (and the glass house at Wisley is lovely and warm for them at the moment) then they'll fly off to find out what tropical delights the glasshouse staff have laid on for them.

Each year the Wisley team find more varieties of plants that are able to flower in an English January, and to provide nectar for tropical butterflies.


Orchids, Calliandra, the Jade vine Strongylobum and Lantana were all being well visited today by butterflies.


But for those that don't like the Wisley specimens, there is a buffet table


Where the guests actually prefer the fruit at the rotting, past it's best stage, and the centre of the flowers are sugar water (10% solution) for feeding and drinking.

I really enjoyed my butterfly trip today. And they are very popular as the queues on Sunday when I went with my family, and the full glasshouse today prove. So I hope they are here to stay as a winter attraction at Wisley. - They are in the Glasshouse until Mid February, so don't worry if you can't get there in the next few days.

Now i'm off to plan more attractive plants for our native butterflies this summer. - Anyone know if they like sugar water too?







Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


How lovely to see your pictures! I've linked to your blog from my post - hope you don't mind.

The Constant Gardener

Oh.... I miss Wisley.

Reading yours and Victoria's post reminds me what a wonderful and magical event this is.

Superb pictures and thank you for the virtual visit!

Claire, Plantpassion

Victoria - thanks for the link, glad you liked it too, and yes the children were sooo excited.

Constant Gardener- yes I am very lucky to have Wisley as a resource just down the road. Hope my virtual tour will make you want to come back and visit some time soon


I have a bit of a fear of large butterflies. I think I went somewhere as a child and had some huge ones land on me, anyway I tend to avoid such places now but peer in through the windows! I was lucky last year to see a newly hatched atlas moth at a local private garden and it was amazing.

As for native butterflies despite filling my garden with flowers (singles not doubles) I hardly ever see butterflies. I can only assume that as the surrounding gardens arent very floral the butterflies dont get to me

Ena Ronayne (@plantmad)

What a wonderful if rather daunting experience for you Clare? I had often wondered how the butterflies were transported but silly me I had never imagined that of course (which makes perfect sense) they would travel in their pupae state. Fantastic blog post as always and wonderful imagery. Prize for the best dressed butterfly has to go to the Malay Lacewings - exquisite to say the least!

The comments to this entry are closed.