The RHS Butterfly Dome featured both tropical plants and tropical butterflies inside a large geodesic dome creating an immersive experience for show visitors. The dome measured 20m wide by 10m high and featured 30 trees, 4500 tropical plants and 2500 free flying butterflies creating a stunning display. Dave designed the layout for the feature, managed the six figure budget, purchased all the materials and plants and brought together several teams to deliver the planting, butterfly care and external landscaping.
Inside the dome a planting plan was created for the tree positions and this is in slide 2. In addition a schedule was created for the 4500 small plants that were planted into the planting beds (outlined in blue on the plan), the small planting schedule had to remain flexible because of availability and so each bed was broken down into areas and mixes of plants specified per area according to foliage size and texture along with flower colour.
During construction all of the trees were positioned first and then the dome structure was craned into position over the top of the trees as shown in slide 4.
Once the dome was in position and the planting completed, 2500 butterflies were released into the dome to complete the display.
The size of the Butterfly Dome structure (19m diameter and 9.5m high) meant that the scale of the surrounding external landscape would be important to achieve a cohesive installation. With the theme of gardening for wildlife a concept was developed that incorporated wild-flower meadows, native trees and planting that encouraged caterpillars (slide 3).
After developing the concept, an initial CAD plan was developed to show the proposed planting and this can be seen in slide 5. The plan shows tree positions, planting areas for the herbaceous caterpillar food planting and also meadow areas where wild-flower meadow turf would be used. Below left is a perspective view showing the dome sitting within the external landscape.
Slides 1, 6 and 7 show the external landscape being constructed (slide 6) and the completed landscape (slides 1 and 7). Landformed areas were created around the dome to add interest, vary the views and site the dome more sympathetically within the landscape.