Monday, 15 June 2015

Shock horreur


and peonies

at Sissinghurst.

So far

so lovely.

We even came up with a similar rose

and Christophii allium combo.
Theirs above.
Mine below.

 But what I didn't expect 

was that we both had
identical Mullein moth caterpillars
chomping away on our verbascums.

 A French visitor pointed them out to us
and we had a difficult conversation because I could only
guess at papillon de nuit for moth
which she  seemed not to understand,
but which turns out to be correct.
I was however able to impress her with
'Il reste sous la terre pendant cinq ans.'
accompanied by vigorous burrowing actions.

Vita Sackville-West spoke fluent French
(handy for when she eloped to France with Violet Trefusis.)
 I don't know if any French visitors made it to Sissinghurst Castle 
when it opened for just a single weekend each year in 1938
but I do know that 3000 French prisoners
were incarcerated there during the Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763.
They called Sissinghurst 'Chateau de Sissinghurst' and the name stuck.


  1. Lovely flower photos. Lucky you.

  2. They rest under the ground for five years? Sorry, my French is not very good.
    I love your photos. I would be over the moon with happiness if I could visit Sissinghurst.
    There are no roses in the world like English roses. Not for me anyway.

    1. Yes they pupate and live underground for up to five year before hatching. The moth is rarely seen but the caterpillars are all too obvious.

  3. You are lucky you were able to get that far in French - my verbascum didn't make it through the winter.

  4. wow, 5 years, that's patience right there.
    must show my 7-yr-old those white roses, her very favourite.

  5. Fabulous peonies - I particularly love that slightly mad pink one.

  6. Glorious roses and peonies, horrible grubs. Merde alors! I do miss Sissinghurst as it used to be just down the road and is now rather a trek, but hoping to make it in September. Sadly all the roses will be long gone, but the cottage garden should still be stunning.

  7. Thanks for the visit. I've not yet made it to Sissinghurst, but one day, I hope.

  8. Mullein moth caterpillars!!!!! Eeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuu.... -shudder-

    But the flowers are lovely....


  9. Lucille, I feel fortunate to be able to see these two beautiful gardens via your excellent photographs. I could almost catch the scent of the roses and peonies! In its own way I also think that caterpillar has beauty in its natural design, even if its place in nature's order might have some less lovely aspects.

    My compliments to you on your French fluency, too. Yesterday I had the opportunity to practice a little of my own vanishing fluency when chatting with a Parisian lady in the shop. Her English was flawless, and she seemed to appreciate my willingness to try my French.


  10. But what a fetching caterpillar. Would that I too could go to Sissinghurst as often as you do. Now that I think of it, I've never been.

  11. Spectacular caterpillar; pretty flowers too.

  12. Those moths are very striking in their design (they must taste bad) but quite devastating for your poor verbascums. Beautiful roses and peonies. Sam

  13. Beautiful photographs - even that nasty caterpillar is rather photogenic!

  14. I think it's a very fine Caterpillar ... though I do quite understand that one wouldn't want him to invite all his mates round .