The butterflies at RHS Wisley

Yesterday I promised you butterflies and today butterflies it is.  We stopped off at RHS Wisley on our way home, and it seems quite a few other people had a similar idea. The first car park was full, but we struck lucky in the second car park finding a space just as someone was leaving.  As we'd needed to keep our plans flexible we hadn't been able to book a timed slot, so we decided to head straight over to the glass house and check out the queue.

A yellow bird of paradise in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

The glass houses are always a good place to head for on a chilly day as they're noticeably warmer than outside. In with the butterflies the temperature goes up a notch or two again, and it's definitely not a place for coats.  As we arrived in the glass house shedding hats, gloves and scarves as we made our way to the queue I made an unplanned stop to capture a couple of photos - I can never resist a bird of paradise (above) and the yellow ones looked spectacular.

I've no idea what the flowers are below, but their stripey detail was exquisite, but it was their symmetry that really caught my eye.  They look a bit lily-ish, if I find the name I'll let you know.

flowers in symmetry in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

When we reached the butterfly queue, the marker said it was a thirty minute wait from there. The queue seemed to be moving and so we decided to wait. It was a good choice as less than ten minutes - and several more photos - later, we were in and it was warm. And busy. 

Not just people either, there were plenty of butterflies flying about, much to the delight of everyone close by.  We saw many more butterflies than I could photograph, and many of my shots are of them resting. But what I learnt from this visit was how decorative the underside of their wings are too.

Resting on a leaf by the pool in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley
A hint of blue on the wings of this butterfly in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

The blues on the butterflies was just stunning, and quite often I found myself looking at the plants and then suddenly noticing a butterfly taking a break too. The atmosphere in this part of the glass house was pure amazement, with people pointing the butterflies out to each other and to strangers too.

The underside of the wings - which we saw a lot of - are just as patterned

And I almost missed this one. Stunning isn't it?

This green and brown butterfly almost went unnoticed in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley
A hint more colour in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

"Hunting" butterflies was thirsty work, so lucky we walked past this plant - do you know what it is?

Anyone for coffee?

Yes coffee beans, although it's a little way to go before it ends up in a cup, I'm sure.

It seems that this past weekend, highly detailed plants were my thing as I was mesmerised by this one. Isn't it fantastic?  Sadly there's no butterflies on this one, and I spent quite a long time looking for one and encouraging them over, but with no luck.

The detail on these leaves in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley fascinated me

Just as we were about to leave I spotted another one resting on a plant and put my best "leaning in" skills to use to get as close as I could. All that peering and leaning into greenhouses and places I shouldn't seems to have paid off.

striped leaves offering a place to rest in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

So while I don't have shots this time round of the colourful butterflies, I am pleased with what I managed to capture and pleased that we managed to get along to see them this year.  It was noticeably busier than our visit in 2015, but I'm not sure if that's because our visit was at the weekend rather than a weekday, or because visiting the butterflies are much more widely known.

It was still worth going along though.

If you're planning to go along, then I'd book a timed ticket - while we got lucky with the queuing system, it was busy. The queue was full of young families who were spread out and with parents retrieving stray children so it probably wasn't a true reflection of the queue. There's plenty to see along the way if you do have to queue, but with a timed entry you probably won't need to queue at all.

If you want the butterflies to show interest in you, or one of your party, then wear bright colours. If you don't, then don't of course. There's also usually a lot of butterfly activity around the feeding tables, and this time on our visit we saw the most butterflies while on the upper level of the glass house.

And I'd definitely recommend going along, it is amazing to see butterflies almost the size of an iPhone 5 flying around so close to you.   Have you been, or are you planning to?