Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Festival of exotica ...

RHS Wisley, 21 January 2013

Butterflies in the Glasshouse (12 January – 24 February 2013)

“Escape winter's chill and set hearts a-flutter with a visit to Butterflies in the Glasshouse. Enjoy the sight of exotic butterflies and the beauty of a world class tropical plant collection in this special experience, guaranteed to banish the winter blues. Wander underneath palms and watch the butterflies take part in courtship flights and feed from plant nectar and fruit. Butterflies in the Glasshouse is perfect for children of all ages. 'Awe-inspiring' and 'spectacular' are just some words used to describe the event by the hundreds of families who visit every year. For children, it's a chance to see these beautiful creatures in their 'natural' surroundings and understand where they come from.”

I thought I’d take a closer look …

The early to mid eighties found me working abroad in West Africa. Time spent in The Gambia and both northern and southern Nigeria, provided me with opportunities to observe and capture the beauty of many tropical species. Sadly, I have few photographic memories of the insects I discovered. Time then was spent in the bush armed with just a net to capture my prize followed by release after observation. I remember those years quite clearly and visits to butterfly houses always reignite my passion for tropical species, first sparked after visiting Worldwide Butterflies in Brighton in the late sixties (my parent’s still have that small case of three tropical specimens (Troides aeacusPapilio horishanus and the beautiful Urania ripheus), though now looking rather sad and somewhat faded. Although many tropical species are undoubtedly quite stunning, in my opinion, you can’t beat the magnificence of our own entomological fauna. As my good friend Neil Hulme once said, “Lovely as they are you can't beat an English Purple Emperor, spread-eagled on a woodland ride on a warm July evening”.

I’ll certainly second that …

For those that haven't visited I highly recommend a trip, though do allow time for your camera equipment to acclimatize. As you would expect, it is very hot and humid in the glasshouse so do take a cold drink with you and dress sensibly if you are planning to stay for any length of time.

I hope to go again so maybe see you there …



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