Tag Archives: Butterflies

Exploring RHS Garden Wisley

We had a really fantastic day exploring RHS Wisley today.

We have been to Wisley a few times before and hold membership but we have tended to stick around the main garden part and the glasshouse. Today as the gardens were very busy we ventured further and discovered so much more!

We arrived at lunch time and enjoyed our picnic on one of the lawns before walking towards the lake. We saw some very cute ducklings and some huge fish! Just past the lake we stopped by a Buddleia so I could take some photographs while Gordon and the kids had a few wheelbarrow races and played Hide and Seek.

Wildlife at Wisley

Playing with DaddyAfter I had secured several butterfly shots and the kids had exhausted all the hiding places they could find we carried on walking and followed the signs towards the bird hide and Pinetum. We have not been to this part of the gardens before so there was lots for the kids to explore. We found pine cones of all shapes and sizes and some interesting trees to play under. At the end of the Pinetum we found the Heather gardens, which we beautiful and full of bees and butterflies. The beds were arranged with small paths between them and the kids loved running through these “mazes” and finding different ways in and out.

Wisley GardensAfter running through the Heather we reached the bird hide (but didn’t see any birds) and explored the bug garden. We saw more bees and butterflies before starting the walk back to the cafe as we were all in need of ice cream!

On the way back we walked next to the river. We spotted a rabbit hole, collected yet more pine cones, found some bird feathers we need to identify tomorrow, ate blackberries and saw some impressive mushrooms.

Wisley Gardens 2By the time we reached the cafe we were all quite worn out! But ice cream gave the kids a bit more energy and so the final place we went today was the play area, where they climbed, balanced and scrambled while Gordon and I sat down for a bit!

Wisley Gardens 3We had a lovely day at Wisley today. Every time we go I am reminded what a beautiful place it is with so much to do for everyone. We’ll definitely be going back soon.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Sutton Bioblitz

Today we took part in the Sutton Bioblitz at the local ecology centre.

We arrived around 11.30am and collected our recording sheets and activity booklets for the kids. The area had been split into three zones, aqua, amber and jade. As you recorded in each zone the kids got a stamp in their booklet and once you’d been to all three zones you got a free garden wildlife calender.

We started off in the aqua zone, where they were pond dipping.

As I was on my own with the kids today I decided against looking in the main pond – see here for what happened last time – so we got our nets and looked in the smaller raised ponds.

We spent quite a long time pond dipping and found lots of different animals including damselfly larvae, lesser water boatman, a whirligig beetle, a ramshorn snail, a pond snail and mosquito larvae. We were so engrossed in finding and identifying that I completely forgot to take any photographs! But I did get this one after we had put the nets away and I was trying to convince Jasmine to move on to something else.

Bioblitz 1Once I had convinced all the children we should stop looking in the pond and do the next activity we moved into the amber zone to look for bugs. We didn’t really find many today, just the odd woodlouse and snail; I imagine because all the logs had been turned over several times previously!

On the volunteers table however, we did see thisBioblitz 2Eurycantha, or New Guinea Spiny Stick Insect.

Pretty scary looking if you ask me, but both Thomas and Jasmine were very keen to hold it.

So, after holding the giant stick insect and finding no minibeasts, we headed over to the meadow to complete the final activity and collect our last stamp.

In the meadow we did some butterfly catching with nets and discovered how hard it is to catch, and then keep the butterfly in the net! I did most of the catching and got a few butterflies in the net but took a long time to work out how to keep them there! The only one I managed was a ringlet butterfly. While we were there though someone caught a small blue butterfly, the first one of the day.

As i was trying to catch butterflies, Jasmine and Thomas had found a volunteer turning over logs looking for toads. He found a couple and then as I was chatting to him all 3 kids began their own toad hunt. They did well and Jasmine brought over a small toad and Thomas found a newt.bioblitz 3It was now almost 2pm and we still hadn’t had any lunch. We went to get our calenders and wrote comments on the event tree. Thomas wrote “I found a newt” and Jasmine wrote “I found a toad”! While Thomas was writing Jasmine did a spot more bug catching and managed to catch a couple of grasshoppers by herself! Her eye for spotting and her ability to catch almost any small bug astounds everyone and the volunteers nearby were very impressed with her patience!

But then it was time to leave. I don’t think any of the kids had thought about how hungry they were while we were there because they were having so much fun. But I bought them all a cake on the way out and suggested we go to Macdonalds for some chips, and I didn’t have too many problems getting them back to the car!

We had a really great time today and each time we do something like this I see the kids enthusiasm grow and grow. We’re so lucky to have such a wonderful place nearby!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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A Butterfly, Messy Play and Rainbows

We had a lovely surprise waiting for us when we came downstairs this morning. One of our butterflies had emerged! It was already flying around as well, so had obviously come out very early in the morning.

We then had an even bigger surprise when we saw its wings. It wasn’t any of the butterflies we were expecting it to be!

We were expecting to see either a Small or Large White butterfly, as these are what we had a lot of last year after growing broccoli in the garden. However the one that emerged this morning was a Speckled Wood butterfly.

We still have 5 more chrysalises to open, 2 of which we now think are Speckled Wood Butterflies. One seems to be changing colour this evening so hopefully tomorrow we’ll have another new butterfly to release!

After releasing the butterfly, the kids spent the rest of the morning playing in the garden (again!) and then after lunch we went to our Home Education Group, which was at Caterpillar Tales house again this week.

For the group, they had set up 2 Tuff Spots for messy play; one had Strawberry Angel Delight in and the other had water and cornflour. There was also the water table out for play. You can read their blog post about the afternoon here

The kids spent the whole afternoon playing, moving from one messy activity to the next! They did a lot of mixing, pouring, making puddings and cakes, and had a great water fight at the end of the afternoon! They all ended up soaked, and they loved it!

Finally, today was a special day for Jasmine. Today she started at Rainbows!

She loved it and can’t wait to go back next week. Well she actually wants to go back tomorrow, but she will have to wait until next week!

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A trip to see the Butterflies at Wisley – again!

Back on 15th January we went to the Butterflies in the Glasshouse event at RHS Wisley (blogged here). The event was recently extended until Sunday 3rd March so we took the opportunity to go again today.

I don’t think we saw quite as many butterflies as we saw the first time but it was still an amazing experience and the kids loved it just as much second time round. We even managed to remember to purchase the “Butterfly Spotter Guide” today so we could name what we were looking at as we walked round!

We also saw some Owl Butterfly caterpillars munching through a Banana plant (they are very well camouflaged ), and the “emergence cage” of several different chrysalides and one newly emerged butterfly! As we were getting ready to leave the glasshouse we saw a robin sitting in a tree singing away to everyone!

My favourite photograph from today has to be this one though

This event will definitely be on our calender for next year!

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Butterflies in the Glasshouse at RHS Wisley

RHS Wisley, near Woking in Surrey, is the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society. Gifted to the society in 1903, it has evolved over time into a world class garden. There is something to see whatever the weather and today the kids and I went to see the magical Butterflies in the Glasshouse, an event running until 24th February.

The Glasshouse at Wisley

The Glasshouse is a huge cathedral-like glass structure covering an area equal in size to 10 tennis courts. It has 3 climatic zones, recreating tropical, moist temperate and dry temperate habitats. The Butterflies event is in the tropical zone. With a minimum night temperature of 20°C (68°F) and a relative humidity of 65-70 percent, this zone has an environment similar to a tropical rain forest. The combination of heat and moisture promotes fast growth, immense leaf size and extravagant, brightly coloured flowers.

The butterflies arrive at Wisley as Chrysalis and they are hatched out in a special environmentally controlled chamber. Every day they are checked and released into the Glasshouse. There is a large range of butterflies to see including the stunning Blue Morpho, the Achilles Morpho, the Tailed Jay, the Great Yellow Mormon Swallowtail, and the Owl Butterfly.

I wasn’t entirely sure how the kids would react to having all the butterflies flying freely around. Seeing them in the garden is one thing, even rearing them from caterpillars (as we spent last summer doing) and then releasing them is still very different from being in a large greenhouse surrounded by them. And the ones at Wisley are much, much larger than any I have seen in the UK! I needn’t have worried however, as they all loved it!

After we’d seen the butterflies (twice as we had a toilet and lunch stop in the middle!) we did some exploring of the lake and the Jubilee Arboretum and then ended the day by climbing the Fruit Mount a few times!

Wisley is a fantastic palce for a day out, whatever the weather. There is plenty to see and do for the whole family. I would highly recommend Butterflies in the Glasshouse; I know we will be going again before the event finishes!

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