The Very Hungry Caterpillar Garden (Tatton Park 2019)

Insect hotel wall made from trunks and tubes

Tatton Park is a garden in north-west England that, in normal circumstances, hosts a flower show in July. One of my favourite small gardens in the Back to Back category at last year’s show was created by the garden’s head gardener, Simon Tetlow, and built with the help of local volunteers. Named in honour of the 50th anniversary of The Very Hungry Caterpillar book to help attract children’s attention, it was designed from a bug’s or beetle’s perspective.

Sedums grown in the gaps between logs
Sedums jazz up the hotel for human eyes

Gardeners may have a love/hate relationship with creepy crawlies, but we all know our gardens wouldn’t survive without them. This garden went all out to encourage us to spare them a thought: the tidier our outdoor areas are, the fewer places insects have to live.

Slices from the trunk of a 330 year old beech tree that had come down in a storm were used to make two huge log piles that ran the length of the garden on both sides. Clay drainage pipes stuffed with moss filled any gaps and formed a third wall.

Insect hotel made with terracotta tubes and moss
Moss provides a warm place to live

The planting included lavender, verbena and buddleia to please bees and butterflies while topiary balls added some neat formality (and made me think of a huge green caterpillar).

The very hungry caterpillar garden

While few people in England’s small cottages and terraced houses will go so far as to recreate this quirky garden at home, it was hard to see it without breaking out in a smile and thinking about the question it posed: “Is there anything I can do that will make my garden more of a wildlife sanctuary?”

37 Replies to “The Very Hungry Caterpillar Garden (Tatton Park 2019)”

    1. It’s nice they were able to make use of such an old tree too. I had remarked at the time how big some of the sections were, but it’s often only afterwards you get the story of a garden.

  1. “Is there anything I can do that will make my garden more of a wildlife sanctuary?”
    Full of ideas which I shall take on board, thanks for highlighting. The garden looks so good too.

  2. I made two bee hotels just this afternoon! Not as grand as this installation, but it was fun to do. I discovered that invasive Japanese knotweed with its hollow stems, makes the best tubing to insert into cans. Win/win!

    1. Well done! Your knotweed story makes me think of a small onion that vigorously sprouted before I got to it, so I planted it. It sent up two huge, waving stems topped with umbels that are very reluctant to open. Some caterpillars bit one off near the bottom (or it snapped in the wind) and I was amazed how hollow the stems are.

  3. Sure made me smile! You might be interested in knowing that Eric Carle, author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, lives not far from Maine, in Massachusetts. He has even founded a museum devoted to the art of children’s books. Someday I might even visit it.

        1. The museum was built in 2002. I live about 1.5 miles from there and have never been. I know one of the authors of “The Phantom Tollbooth” and they had a reception for him and the illustrator, Jules Feiffer, a few years ago t the museum and that didn’t get me there. The odds may still be in your favor.

    1. I imagine the art of children’s books would be colourful. There are many more art forms than those we traditionally celebrate in museums and galleries.

  4. The museum of Eric Carle’s work, the author of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” is just a mile or so from my house. I am not very good at checking local points of interest so have not been there…nor to Emily Dickinson’s house either, also in our town.
    That’s a very cool ,and attractive garden.

    1. I have visited the Brontes’ house which is not too far from me, but I found it very sad to think of them all dying so young there, one after another. Anne did die away from home, but she faded there.

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