A rare visitor to Glyndebourne gardens

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Glyndebourne is renowned for its gardens – carefully manicured lawns, terrace borders bursting with seasonal blooms, and the more formal English rose and flower gardens. One of the garden’s many charms is how effortlessly it dissolves into the bucolic landscape, harmoniously resting side-by-side.

The gardens are also home to some seldom seen elements, from lesser spotted birds to retiring reptiles and rare flora and fauna.

Earlier this autumn a member of the Glyndebourne customer service team, Yasmin Howell, spotted the winged beauty pictured above on the path leading up to the Shop and the Long Bar.

Yasmin reached out to the Twitter community to help her identify the species and a barrage of moth enthusiasts got in touch to explain it was the rare Oleander Hawk Moth.


Daphnis nerii – Oleander Hawk

Butterfly Conservation spokesperson Liam Creedon said:

‘The Oleander Hawk Moth is an unmistakeable rarity with only a handful arriving in the UK each autumn. Typically a moth of the Mediterranean and North Africa, the adult feeds on Honeysuckle and Tobacco, so if you have these plants in your garden and live in southern England, check them at dusk for a surprise.’


Nicotiana (Tobacco) in Glyndebourne gardens



Colin Pratt, who helped to identify the moth, said:

‘UK specimens are only occasional and are immigrants. Just over two dozen Oleander Hawk have been found in Sussex since records began during the 1840s, only three of which made landfall in the west. This moth’s beauty and national rarity combine to make it the holy grail for moth hunters.’

According to a report carried out by Butterfly Conservation in 2013, moths are in decline, particularly in southern Britain, with a 40% decrease in total abundance.


How to attract moths to your garden

We asked Butterfly Conservation for some simple tips to increase the number of moths in your garden.

‘You can attract many beautiful moths into your garden by taking a few simple steps.

One of the easiest ways to make your garden better for moths is simply to stop working so hard. Moths and their caterpillars need fallen leaves, old stems and other plant debris to help them hide from predators, and especially to provide suitable places to spend the winter.


Stumps left to accommodate animals and insects at Glyndebourne



It’s very helpful to delay cutting back old plants until the spring, rather than doing it in the autumn, and just generally be less tidy.

If you want your garden to look tidy in the summer, try leaving some old plant material behind the back of borders or in other places out of sight. Many moth caterpillars feed on the native plants we consider weeds, so tolerating some weeds and long grass in your garden can also be very beneficial to moths.’


Meadow grass cuttings at Glyndebourne



Glyndebourne Head Gardener, Kevin Martin, said:

‘We work hard to encourage moths and butterflies. There are certain areas we leave unkempt – piles of old material such as meadow grass cuttings [which we cut annually in September], herbaceous tops, stacks of logs, etc. We also leave areas of stinging nettles to flourish, which encourages butterflies.


A tasty treat: Nerium oleander in Glyndebourne gardens



We have have three Oleander plants [Nerium oleander] as well as two Tobacco [Nicotiana] and Honeysuckle [Lonicera] growing up obelisks in the Urn garden, which may have made for a tasty treat for this moth.’


Have you spotted any unusual wildlife at Glyndebourne? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below or get in touch via pressoffice@glyndebourne.com.