A lesson from a caterpillar


“It’s been a real hit over the summer”

Matthew Pottage, Acting Curator at RHS Garden Wisley

In its anniversary year, the Caterpillar from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is bought to life once again as an InstaPlant® display at RHS Garden, Wisley.

One of the strangest acquaintances that Alice makes during her adventures in wonderland is a blue, 3 inch tall Caterpillar, sat upon a mushroom smoking a pipe, who greets a very confused Alice with the question ‘Whooo are you?”

Despite being disliked by Alice at first due to his stand offish nature, he becomes a teacher to Alice and she later remarks that he will one day turn into a butterfly, which he does. It is rather apt then that earlier this year we were commissioned by RHS Garden, Wisley to design and produce a 3D InstaPlant replica of the traditional caterpillar on a mushroom illustration originally drawn by John Tenniel, incorporating a few minor adjustments, for their summer celebration of the 150th anniversary of the well-loved Lewis Carroll creation Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In early spring we set to work on the initial design of the steel framework which was then fabricated off-site by a local company. When the framework was ready, our team of experienced workers fitted an intricate internal irrigation system before planting up the structure to design specifications.

caterpillar_onsiteA specific type of blocking compost was required to fill the structure, a very traditional method that spans back to Victorian times. Using approximately 3000 carpet bedding plants, that’s approximately 400 plants per square metre, we used a range of Alternanthera, Echeveria and Sedum producing a magnificent display. Standing 2.3 metres tall and weighing 1.5 tonnes the InstaPlant® team worked on the structure, taking great pride in every stage of the build to ensure that the final product is just right.

We finally added some extra finishing touches such as painting the caterpillar’s face then the display remained in the nursery for six weeks where we grew and maintained it until it was ready to send out to the customer.

The 3-D sculpture of the caterpillar relaxing on a mushroom welcomed visitors to RHS Garden, Wisley as part of the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland inspired Top Terrace bedding scheme created by Wisley’s second-year horticulture Diploma students. The living sculpture has been nestled above the striking Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’, Ageratum houstonianum ‘High Tide Blue’, Heliotropium ‘Dwarf Marine’ and Limonium sinatum ‘Rose Light’ where clashing colours and the White Rabbit structure seemingly led you from reality to Wonderland.

RHS Garden Wisley Top Terrace and Laboratory

Matthew Pottage, Acting Curator at RHS Garden, Wisley said that the caterpillar had been “a real hit over the summer.” We of course will be looking forward to working with RHS Garden, Wisley on future projects with InstaPlant® creations.

One of the beauties of this particular product here at Kernock is that they can be replanted time and time again and used for year on year displays. In fact, these kinds of structures are often returned to us for a complete make-over and recycled for new events, often reappearing from our glasshouses as a completely different looking product.

All of the plants that were used in making this structure can be found in the InstaPlant® brochure or on our website www.instaplant.co.uk. The display is expected to last until the first frost of winter.

….You imagine it, we design it, plant it, deliver it, you enjoy it!

For further information on InstaPlant® products please contact us on 01579 352802, see our website www.instaplant.co.uk or email instaplant@kernock.co.uk.