Sunday, 31 January 2010

Even More Wonders at Wizzers

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.  

Nathaniel Hawthorne

If Nathaniel Hawthorne is correct in his speculation then it is unlikely that happiness will be found in the RHS Wisley Glasshouse which has been turned into "a tranquil paradise where exotic butterflies take flight among tropical plants in the warmth". 

The Sock had pictured a gentle wander around the Glasshouse watching the masses of  butterflies flutter by, an occasional one alighting on a nearby leaf or flower or even on the Sock's hat providing perfect photo opportunities.  The reality was just a little bit different.  There were hordes of high-pitched children rampaging around trying to spot one of the dozen or so butterflies which weren't either already dead, or playing possum in order to avoid their monkey prodding fingers.  Although it was bitterly cold outside, the Glasshouse was like an afternoon in Singapore, heavy with humidity.. and the Socks already heavy with winter jumpers.

There were some rather lovely specimens of these 'flying flowers' although the Sock noticed that most of the fabulously blue 'morpho' butterflies appeared to have bitten the dust. A small child whined to her father "Are those butterflies dead?"  "No, Amber.. they are just having a rest".    The Sock caught Amber's eye and mouthed.  "They're dead! Gone! Snuffed it!" whilst miming a slashing motion across her neck.  Amber looked slightly bewildered but the Sock had done her a favour.  Parents shouldn't lie like that.

As a small child the Sock was walking on a Devon beach with family and friends when an oil slicked seagull was spotted.   Fathers and brothers were sent to investigate whilst mothers quickly hustled the Sock and her friend Julie back to the car.  Some short time later the "men" returned and assured us that the seagull had flown off happily.  But Uncle Tony had a gun and we had heard a bang and anyway we weren't that stupid.  The Sock and her friend sat in stoney silence, tears slipping down their faces for the entire journey home.  It wasn't the death of the seagull that hurt - it was the pain of the first lie we had caught our parents out in.

Escaping the overly crowded and humid tropical section the Socks had a quick look at the succulents to get ideas for replacements for her winter dead echeverias and aeoniums.  There was much to covet.

Amongst the other interesting exotics in the Glasshouse the Sock spotted this - can you guess what it is children?

No you can't. So  the answer is here.

Don't be put off seeing the butterflies but avoid the crowds and kids by going during the week.
The Wisley Glasshouse is always worth a visit butterflies or not.


Rob said...

No, I'd never have guessed it was a skirt. I was thinking it might be some sort of Trachycarpus/Chewbacca hybrid.

Must get down to Wisley, but learnt long ago that weekdays are the only days to visit in peace.

Did you get any plants?

Arabella Sock said...

No plants - well a couple of little pots of spring bulbs which are a bit further on than my own. We did a bit of a flying visit really as there are rather a lot of jobs we should be getting on with at home. :(

I got pictures of the various echeverias and aeoniums I like along with their names but whether I will ever find them for sale is another matter.

Yan said...

She must have been wearing that for a bet. A big bet.

My favourite things in the Glasshouse are the Echinocactus Grusonii. I am convinced that they move about when you are not looking at them and gather in groups to chat.

They are the same everywhere, we have just come back from La Gomera and they do it there, too!

PS Happy New Year, albeit a bit late

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Yan and Happy New year

The skirt thingy was worn over the top of jeans. I think the lady was German. I did wonder whether it was the latest fashion craze - and very sensible to wear a wrap around rug in the cold. The texture of it looked just like some sort of tree trunk hung with mossy stuff.

Lucky you going to La Gomera - I could do with some time in the sun and light!

Plant Mad Nige said...

I was going to say that the mystery object was obviously a gang of male orang utans clustered around something of tremendous interest to them. And when I clicked on your link, I was delighted to be proven absolutely correct.

And well done for giving the kids the truth about death versus sleep. Do you think deception is ever justified, when bringing up children? I have to say that I do, sometimes - though I feel guilty about telling my granddaughter that its her bed time, when it isnt' quite. When she knows how to tell the time, my eventing snifter and grown-up conversation will have to be put back to a later hour than is convenient. Kids, eh!

Arabella Sock said...

Morning Nigel

I think if you are going to lie to children it should be a big fat flying fantasy fib rather than a lazy lie like saying the butterflies were sleeping. A friend of mine's mother told her that she (the mother) was, in fact, Enid Blyton. No doubt this gave the mother some private amusement but gained my friend a slap from her teacher when she proudly repeated this information! Ha ha!

It's funny how well I remember the seagull incident. The oil was from the Torrey Canyon disaster so I must have been very young. Quite why anyone suddenly got protective about 'the girls' I don't know other than a feeling of guilt that they couldn't be bothered to take the seagull to a rescue centre so put it out of its misery. Normally my parents were extremely unprotective allowing myself and brother to grow up with an extraordinary amount of freedom and independence but not a great deal of support.

Arabella Sock said...

PS. Love the idea of the orang utans - laughing at that has woken me up from my morning stupor.

Ms B said...

I thought for a moment the mystery object was a hideous new hattiewat!

Putting on my intellectual hattiwat (a frequently lost object) I remember reading 'Father & Son' by Edmund Gosse for A level & the author talking about his utter devastation when he realised his father did not know everything.

We debated going to Wizzers yesterday; did nothing instead!

The Constant Gardener said...

spooky spooky! I too was in the glasshouse at Wisley yesterday with assorted small children! In fact I probably walked past the Socks without even realising they were there!

(you could at least have worn a spectacular hat, or a sock on your hand or something just as a clue for passing garden bloggers...)

Didn't spot the skirt, though I wish I had - I thought that was a particularly hairy cactus.

I have taken all the same photos as you have for a strangely similar post later in the week. So don't think I'm copying cos I'm not :D

We spoke to a lady who was gently chucking us out and she said because it's so cold outside the butterflies aren't feeding properly so are dying off quicker - there are usually more than there were yesterday. I thought the temperature was kept constant but it appears not, just a certain amount above what's outside. Must be tricky planning for weather like this - the butterflies are hatching out whatever so they've got to let them out, but it's just too chilly for them. Poor little things.

Entirely agree about telling small people about death - we have a lot of it round here what with chickens, guinea pigs and things murdered by the cat. So a butterfly or two was small fry really (my youngest tried to smuggle one out with her but I caught her at it and told her to put it back).

We're planning to go back in half-term when it's got a bit warmer (at least a couple of degrees above zero, anyway) and there are a few more flutterbys to see.

Arabella Sock said...

Ms. B. - you may be forgiven for thinking that it was a hideous hattiewat as the skirt does bear a startling resemblance to the kind of hat that Sarah Raven adorns herself with.

Constant G. that is interesting to know that the temperature was killing off some of the butterflies. I found it exceptionally hot and draining in that part of the Glasshouse although the crowds were probably generating some of it. I expect that everyone got the same butterfly photos as the ones you could see were all fairly static. I did suggest to someone that some of the butterflies had in fact been glued into position but they glared at me, although I thought it was quite a reasonable hypothesis.

Dishwasher Crab said...

I knew someone who wouldn't go in the butterfly house at the zoo because of the humidity. While she was sitting outside, waiting for her friends to come out, a peacock fell on her head and knocked her out.

Arabella Sock said...

Now Dishwasher Crab, is that the truth is it a big fat flying fantasy fib?

Dishwasher Crab said...

No, it really is true. If I was going to lie I would have made up something more fanciful like "an emu fell on her". Dunno how an emu would get up a tree though.

I'm trying to decide whether being hit on the head by a peacock would ruin one's hattiewat, or greatly enhance it.

Yan said...

By the way, I meant to say, I am so pleased you are still wearing your Poinsettia outfit, I think it suits you!

VP said...

In a the rarest of tweets the RHS announced the other day that the butterfly bit's now closed for a while.