Friday, 4 July 2014

Houghton Lodge Hydroponicum And Magical Moths

I am coming over all Middle-Aged, because this is another post on nice buildings (but also moths, so there remains Some Hope For Me Yet). M and I realised, as we traveled the South visiting lovely buildings and gardens this week, that at every destination we lowered the demographic by about twenty years, not to mention several strands of natural hair colour (well, I did anyway).

And so to Houghton Lodge, which boasts what I have been mistakenly calling a hypochondriac all week because my rather tired brain couldn't muster sufficient cell wattage to drag up the real word, which is of course hydroponicum: a novel way of growing plants without soil.

This is from the website: "Hydroponics is a way of gardening without using soil. Instead plants are successfully grown in a nutrient enriched perlite and vermiculite base (so light, it is miraculous for those of us with bad backs – there are no more heavy bags of compost to lift!). It is used extensively for the commercial production of tomatoes, lettuces, flowers etc."

If that is hard to visualise here is a picture....

They looked a tad anaemic to me, but they were growing. Undoubtedly.

Houghton Lodge was built as a fishing lodge around 1800 and has provided the setting for several BBC dramas (Wilde, The Buccaneers, the odd Miss Marple). It has acres of pretty gardens and a lovely stretch of the River Test where I spent quite a lot of time dragging M round the banks looking for Water Voles (to No Avail). Oh, and there is also an Orchid House full of enigmatic-looking plants...

I do have more Ancient Houses to show you from this week (particularly a 14th Century Manor where I very nearly met TVBF No 1 (as hinted at yesterday), and where M was very nearly cast as an extra in Wolf Hall), but as I don't want to Over-Excite you all I shall save those for another time.

So by way of a contrast with Old Houses, here are some pics of a recent Moth Outing to keep you all going (until next week when the box will be out again and a Fresh Batch will be here). I was hoping to get the box out tonight, but it is raining :-( 

I haven't totted the moths from this batch up yet, but we're already over 150 species for the year so I'd say we're On Target to go beyond last year's total of a little over 300, which is great. We've also had a new flutter in the garden- a Large Skipper. I saw three today- they've never been here before so I am hoping this is a result of the changes I've made to the food plants in the garden :-)

The keen-eyed among you will notice that the first two pics are not in fact of moths - they are a first instar common shield bug (Bit Gorgeous) and what off the top of my head is I think a nettle weevil respectively. Both found in the garden this week and therefore added to the sixty species of insect I have so far noted down for this year in my garden survey. Sadly, I rather suspect the weevil is dead, but I liked the way the camera has captured the individual drops of moisture on the flora so I have included him here.....

First instar common shield bug (a baby)

Dead Nettle weevil (or else very good at playing statues)
On to the Moths and my first Angle Shades of the year has arrived.... Their wings always remind me of draped capes....
Angle Shades

Angle Shades
The next moth is entirely new to the garden and to me - a Beautiful Snout. I was glad to see him.... (not a name that does him justice really)....
Beautiful Snout
This Brimstone was outside on the corkscrew willow...

Buff Arches...

And another Buff Arches I discovered holding on to a stem outside
It's Footman Time Of The Year. This one is a Dingy Footman (great name- M has snapped it up for his online moniker)....

Dingy Footman
 And this one is a Common Footman....

Common Footman

The Elephant Hawkmoths are here in abundance now- six in the box this week....

This little moth has a Big Name For A Small Person- Lozotaeniodes formosana only measures a few millimeters in length but is an amazingly patterned and coloured creature.

The Peppereds (evolution in action) are still present, although so far this year I've only seen two of the Melanistic forms (but that's two up on last year so who's complaining?)

Peppered Moth
These pillars hatched out on the wall. I've no idea who they belong to or indeed where they have now gone...

Riband moths come in two distinct colour choices, both of which are present in our garden and helpfully showed up in the same batch so I could include them here...
Riband 1

Riband 2
A third version of footman has just started to arrive in the garden. Allow me to introduce you to Rosy, who is Well Named, as last year she made a bee-line for L's feet and wouldn't leave them alone. As a consequence, both he and I regard Rosy Footmen with Deep Affection.... We gets lots of them here- it's not unusual to count 60 in the box in one go as the summer progresses. There is a yellow version too, but I've never seen it. Instead, we get lots of these delicate flushed pink types. Sweet moths they are, very friendly souls....

This is the Small version of the Angle Shades. I always think they look like they're wearing Velvet Cloaks....

And finally, a moth I have only seen in pillar form before. This is a Vapourer and I was jolly glad to make his acquaintance. I say he with confidence, because his wife has no wings and can't fly :-(

The disgusting back-drop he is taking his own life in his hands to sit on is one of our window house-keeping just doesn't get any better, does it? I think we must all be proof against every germ that exists in the world, given the grime we are exposed to, as aptly illustrated by the murk on that window sill. Yuk.

The Vapourer
That's all for now. I will be back with Alfriston Clergy House, Great Chalfield Manor and Laycock Abbey (or Acock Labbey, as M referred to it after a long day. That sounds vaguely rude....).

Have a nice evening all,

CT :-)


  1. Houghton Lodge looking decidedly tres ples..
    So far no moths to report on my study wall this year. Not even the reliable black arches. Have they deserted me?

    1. Funny you should mention the black arches- I was only re-reading that post last night where you had one. It's a wee bit early for them yet, they usually start to appear late July. I've not seen one here yet.

  2. No, definitely not middle aged because you are visiting buildings and such like - because that is what I do and there is no way that I am calling myself middle aged - even though I probably am!! The lodge is lovely, the building itself and the gardens. Not sure about the hypothingwotsit though, the plants look a bit straggly to me, but not knowing what they are it is hard to say. I am pretty sure that plants are designed to grow in soil, not drips of liquid feed! I look forward to seeing the other places you visited and as and when. xx

    1. They do look straggly. I can see the benefit for gardeners who can't bend over so easily but I agree with you- I prefer to grow my plants in the ground in soil :-) xx

  3. I was quite tickled pink to meet Rosy ~ and the Vapourer reminded me of something right out of a Harry Potter movie ~ Clapping wildly I am . I have become a big fan of interesting moths these days it seems.

    1. More to come before the year's done Willow- I am eagerly awaiting the emeralds, who look like bright green butterflies :-)

  4. I think I've always been middle aged,now that I'm 40 I can happily shout about it. Have you always been interested in moths, I never knew that so many existed, Mike looks at me with a worried expression when I tell him I would like a little moth catcher for the garden. With all the fields & hedges I want to know what is fluttering round at night! As for your house keeping skills which ahem sound like mine, you & your family have excellent immune systems. I've told my family that they must thank me for their excellent health!

    1. There is a lot to like about middle age- for instance, cream teas :-)
      My moth interest was sparked by Ragged Robin's excellent blog last year. You would get hundreds in your garden too by the sounds of it. If you think of moths as night-time pollinators you get a much better sense of how important they are. A Yellow Shell has just landed on our wall as I am typing this- beautiful creatures with lots of different shades of yellow and orange x

  5. Houghton lodge looks fab, i haven't heard about it before. And oh those pretty moths. Why do I never see anything like that? or do i and I'm just not looking closely enough?


    1. They will be in your garden Jean, just usually at night where they all look brown in the darkness :-) you do get day flying moths but they often hide quite well among flowers and grasses x

  6. Houghton Lodge looks fascinating - the orchids are rather lovely :) Look forward to hearing about a near encounter with TVBF No. 1. I tried to persuade the family to stop off at Bridport on the way home yesterday in case they were still filming Broadchurch Series 2 and the delectable David Tenant was around :) Needless to say OH was not impressed and we went to Lyme Regis instead!!!!

    Great selection of moths as always - I would so like to trap a Rosy Footman - they look such pretty moths.

    1. You would have laughed at the TVBF moment- I shall write a post about it in the next couple of days :-) Agree re David Tenant and Broadchurch was excellent. Bridport is a lovely place too with a fab bakery. Although Lyme is also gorgeous :-)

      The Rosy footmen are on my top ten of favourite moths- I love their colour and shape and they are so friendly too.

  7. Another great house to visit and what a beautiful selection of moths, aren't they amazing. We keep getting light rain over night so the trap hasn't been out this weekend, fingers crossed for tonight.
    Amanda xx

    1. Moths will still fly in light rain- you just need to make sure the box top isn't open to the elements and that they've got plenty of egg boxes to hide beneath and keep dry, if that's the case you'll be fine to put it out overnight in rain :-)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x