Dear Mummy, seeing the tropical butterflies at RHS Wisley is a great way to combat the winter blues. We visited on an inset day to see the annual butterfly exhibit just outside Guildford. We love seeing exotic butterflies up close and don’t get that many opportunities to see so many species in one go.
At the beginning of each year RHS Wisley’s Glasshouse comes alive with more than 6,000 exotic butterflies. This year there are 50 species from Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Inside the Glasshouse’s Tropical Zone it is transformed into rainforest, which makes a welcomed relief from the cold February days.
Before we entered the Glasshouse we walked through some wonderful gardens and they are home to one of the largest collections of plants in the world. Unfortunately we weren’t able to fully appreciate them during our winter visit. We only managed to track down some snowdrops, crocuses and colourful dogwoods. The Glasshouse certainly was an imposing sight, catching the light off the lake which surrounds it from the rockery.
We loved seeing all the wonderful butterfly art installations created by artist Alison Catchlove which were dotted around outside the butterfly house and added some much needed colour to the winter landscape. We were wrapped up warm wth lots of layers as we knew that once we entered the glasshouse it would result in us stripping off our winter overcoats. As soon as we walked through the plastic drapes, designed to keep the butterflies in, we hit a wall of humidity, thankfully we could stuff our jackets into mummy’s rucksack to allow us to be hands free in order to take photos and write down our findings in the butterflies spotters guide.
We pre-planned and booked our time slot before we arrived online, which was a really simple booking system but also well worth it, as it enabled us to jump the queues and go straight in. Even though on the day we arrived (friday) there weren’t any queues it was better to be safe than sorry. We could imagine it getting very busy there. However it was crowed inside The Tropical Zone with people shuffling around the Glasshouse’s walkways and vying for spots to see the butterflies. We spent a long time inside waiting for breaks in the crowds and sat for a long time watching the butterflies float around us.
We saw a Giant Owl (butterfly!) and a Tree Nymph just as we entered which was instant gratification. Some species have never been seen at RHS Wesley before and we loved seeing the swallowtail Papilla paris (Paris peacock). The magnificent Morpho peleides (blue morphs) flew past us a couple of times too!
After we saw the butterflies, we went for a wander around Wisley’s lovely grounds. We love the outdoors. And it’s always nice going out for a winter walk, especially when it’s not raining. Wisley is one of those places where you could spend a whole day as there is so much to see especially in the Spring/Summer seasons.
A lot of the butterflies inside the glasshouse were flying around, while others were munching on old fruit and sat vertical on trees. We had fun spotting them with the help of our butterfly spotting guide for £1 which was lovely to take away with us afterwards.
Also inside, we saw two glass fronted cases where butterfly chrysalises were incubating and large posters explaining and showing butterflies of the UK. We stopped for a much needed hot chocolate and while I munched on my butterfly cupcake, which looked too good to eat, we chatted about what we’d seen.
If you want to see the butterflies at Wisley, we’d recommend booking your tickets online for a 10% discount and pre-booking a time slot so you don’t have to wait in line. Tickets for a family of four (two adults and two children) costs £40.70 including Gift Aid. RHS Wisley members enter for free. If you can’t see the butterflies here this year why not try and entice them into your garden? Try a couple of Buddlejas, commonly known as butterfly bushes as their showy, fragrant flowers are loved by pollinators!
Love Bella x