wisley blue morphoThough it may be dull, grey and damp outside, this magical, annual event at RHS Wisley is well worth a visit to lift the spirits and transport you to warmer climes, albeit for a couple of hours. The spectacular butterflies, from a range of exotic locations around the world, flit and float amongst the lush foliage, dazzling and surprising by turns.

wisley hatching butterfliesSpecies include the blue morpho, giant owl, king swallowtail and Malay lacewing, and you can get even closer to these ephemeral insects at one of the many feeding stations located throughout the glasshouse. You’ll be able to learn about the life cyle of these fragile creatures and also watch them hatch in the puparium.

At a time when British butterflies are struggling with changing weather patterns and habitat loss, this event raises the profile of these beautiful creatures. For more information on improving your own garden for butterflies next season see the link to the Butterfly Conservation charity.

wisley butterfly black stationIn addition to the flutterings going on in the glasshouse, there are also a number of related events.

16th and 17th Jan – Face painting and willow sculpture…

To mark the opening weekend of the event, there will be face painting for children (small charge) and free willow weaving workshops to create butterfly sculptures (10.30am – 12.30pm and 1pm – 3.30pm).

Sculpture in the garden…

wisley butterfly sculptureYou can follow the Winter Walk through the garden and find a display of butterfly and caterpillar sculptures by artist Alison Catchlove. There is also a children’s competition to design a butterfly that will later be made into a 30cm x 30cm metal sculpture by Alison. The sculpture will be displayed in the glasshouse and the winner will be able to take it home once the butterfly event ends.

For keen photographers there are tutored butterfly photography mornings on 28 January and 5 & 12 February, where you can learn how to improve your skills with expert photographer Adrian Davies, who will cover techniques, equipment and image processing. 8am – 12 noon. Members £53, non-members £66. Book on 020 31765830.


wisley butterfly black and whiteThe Glasshouse is open 10am – 4pm Mon – Fri and 9.30am – 4pm every weekend and during February Half Term. The garden is open 10am – 4.30pm Mon – Fri and 9am – 4.30pm every weekend and during February Half Term. Last entry is half an hour before closing.

Normal garden admission applies (RHS members free), and it’s advisable to book yourself a time slot for the butterfly event in the glasshouse as it does get very busy, especially in half term. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your time slot. See the links below for more details.