Archive for October, 2013

The Big Bright Butterfly 4.

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

IMG_3953 cropped


I wasn’t meant to come home this weekend but during the week (I was working five hours away) it just got too much for me. I was in a part of the country where there was horrific wind and rain. What was happening to my garden back home: would I get home in a few weeks to find it had been blown and washed away? Or would the weather be the opposite and everything had died due to lack of water?

So I came home and was so pleased I did. There hadn’t been much rain and so the first thing I did was water. Now already I can see some of the wildflower seeds have sprouted: the California poppies look like grass, only a few millimetres long. But I recognise them!

Does it look any different to you? Isn’t it exciting… I can’t wait to see it next – I go away again tomorrow but only for three days. Back on Wednesday 23 October. Another update then!

The Big Bright Butterfly 3.

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

And now the head and antennae are in place. The antennae are two lengths of black alkathene piping pushed hard into the lawn. I have put solar lights in the end of them, so it looks quite spooky at night.

antennae and head

The head is a small topiary bush, Lonicera sp. which is actually Honeysuckle and most opportune as we are involved with the intended introduction of the Honshu White Admiral to control the wild honeysuckle (Lonicera), so this “head” may become useful in another way. I think the head needs to be a little bit bigger – and also the eyes aren’t quite right.


The green plastic piece with eyes that you can see in the photo is a little toy that people wear around their fingers – I saw it in a $2 shop today and thought it might be good for this. But it’ll do until something better comes up.


But do you think the head is the right size?

The Big Bright Butterfly 2.

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Jou Jou Sun arrived (a WWOOFer – willing worker on organic farms) and we got into gear removing all the soil and lining the garden with newspaper to stop that pesky kikuyu grass from coming through.

Then we planted up the garden with hundreds of annuals.
The Big Bright Butterfly Garden

Then we covered the garden with bird-netting (to stop the birds from digging in the garden, the thought it was their place to find worms) suspended on bamboo stakes which had the tops covered with paper cups so that the netting would stay suspended.

netting web

And then… the next question, what to find to make the body?

body web

The next day… almost a catastrophe! Who did I find standing in the middle of the bird netting but Bonnie, who was looking for the Ideal Place to Bury her Bone. She was just about to dig… I roared at her “NO!!!” She looked very sorry for herself.

bone web2

sheepish dog web

“Sorry, Bonnie… go find a better place to bury that bone!”

The wings are already looking colourful. I looked around the internet and couldn’t find anything suitable for the body until… a visit to Oratia Native Plant Nursery. We found the ideal plant, a ground cover, Leptinella pusilla. It has fern-like foliage, very fine and coloured purple-grey to bronze. Just what I wanted! (Not the best of photos.)


Haleigh (WWOOFer) has planted the body:


The next day… the antennae and then (lastly) the head. Then it’s time to wait until things really get growing.

The Big Bright Butterfly

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

I am working on a Big Project this summer:

To create a butterfly garden with a difference – shaped like a butterfly and filled with a kaleidoscope of colourful nectar plants – to inspire young and old people alike to look after New Zealand’s butterflies when they come on school visits or from gardening clubs etc.

When I started, the garden was all laid out and ready to go – but how much will the seeds and plants cost – compost and bird netting and all those sundry other things that are required when you’re working on a new project?

Butterfly Garden 2013-07-18 17.02.35 cropped

Compost is home-made. The mulch should mean that the garden won’t dry out over the summer.

The finished garden should attract butterflies and bees, so very environmentally friendly. I will be constructing this with the help of volunteers and friends. The space is about 10m x 4m. It will be completed by the end of October 2013, and should be in place all summer.

I will post further pictures shortly…