Archive for the 'General' Category

Caterpillars five days old – 3 September

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

They’re growing very quickly now.




You’ll notice that they are no longer black and cream but that the yellow stripes are beginning to show up. Still very tiny.

I collected another 40 or so eggs yesterday, and more today. I’m going to be busy very soon!

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…


Resources : Marketing

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

In a forthcoming column in TONIC magazine I have an article about marketing your organisation and refer to several successful tools that the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust has used in the past.

Here are photographs and templates for these resources:

A photograph of the large overwintering cluster of Monarch butterflies – the paper butterflies were coloured in by schoolchildren all over the country and mailed to us.

Here you can see Ruud Kleinpaste admiring them on our stand. Elsewhere on the stand there were live butterflies flying in a greenhouse with plenty of caterpillars too.

Below is the template for the butterflies – it looks much more realistic when it is folded. There was room on the reverse for a message.

Of course you may not be promoting butterflies – but you can still involve your target market in contributing to a display in a similar manner.

The fortune-tellers are available here.

We used to make fortune-tellers at school when I was little. They are also called cootie catchers, chatterboxes, whirlybirds and wigwarms. They’re a simple form of origami;  and when you’ve made one you ask a question and the fortune-teller operator ‘answers’ after manipulating the fortune teller’s shape.

Ours were to promote a conference – and had facts of interest for teachers, parents and children – but you could personalise the fortunes and the facts to be relevant to your own cause – and the poem that you say when you manipulate the device.

Assembly, Clendon Park School

Monday, April 30th, 2012

A few weeks ago I spoke at a school assembly for Duffy Books in Homes – well, 46 of them actually over the course of three weeks. This was as a “role model” to (hopefully) inspire the children to appreciate books.

My presentation is about how books and reading can lead you on great adventures. At the conclusion I get to present books to children who represent their class or who receive them as Caught Being Good awards. I was later sent these photographs.

They were great kids!

Unknown shrub, Ahipara

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Anyone know the name of this? Pretty flowers – seen on the gumfields south-west of Ahipara. The countryside looks like a desert, very windblown.

Fun in the Far North

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

I’m currently travelling in the Far North of New Zealand and thought you might enjoy these two photos I took yesterday.

One is of my dog (Sheltie, Bonnie) on Ninety Mile Beach – top left-hand corner of NZ – which is actually more like 90 kilometres long, or about 50 miles.

The other was of a woman farmer who was taking bales of hay to feed out to her cattle. I passed her on the road – she could hardly see – so I U-turned and went back and took some photos of her.

I’m having fun (visiting schools for the charity that I work for, Duffy Books in Homes). Some of our little schools are very remote so I get to all the nooks and crannies of NZ.

Butterfly release – Bourne wedding, Rotorua

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

“Thank you for the lovely butterflies you provided us for our wedding.” The weather wasn’t the best but from all reports, on the ‘planning’ and ‘success’ scale, this event rivalled Kate and Andrew’s!

Butterfly release – Stonefields School

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Stonefields School is a new school that wanted to release butterflies at their opening – but the supplier who was to deliver the butterflies had let them down at the last minute.

Their plan was to release four butterflies as part of our opening day celebration. Each one would signify one of their four vision principles, and Sarah, the principal, had written a very appropriate speech that refers to these as well as referring to the ‘butterflies in our stomachs’ that everyone might be feeling on the first day of a new school.

They were thrilled with their butterflies and the outcome – Thursday 3rd February – they gave my favourite charity (the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand Trust) a generous donation, and were blown away by the event.

“We discovered that they moved much quicker than we expected them to…”