Dispatches from a Small World has been a three-year project reporting from my London garden in sketches. It started in the lockdown of 2020, became a blog and 648 drawings later, this is its online home. I'm Lydia Thornley, designer, creative director and sketch illustrator. Read on for tales of time, complicated colours, multitasking plants, surprisingly nippy wildlife and glorious non-uniformity.
It’s the weekend when the clocks go forward. The first tulips are out. In the nearly-three-years of this project, sketching plants has taught me a lot about time. But today, it shows me a parallel universe. This project started in the surreal stillness of lockdown, in an unseasonably-warm Spring. I … Read More
Stripes. Borders. Feathers of tightly-folded leaf unfurling. Wonderfully alien-looking serrated scrolls presenting new stems. Colour so vivid I have to start with highlighter. Never mind the chill wind – the roses are going for it. It takes a lot of colour (and a lot of looking) to show this new growth. … Read More
It’s hot lemon and ginger season, colds everywhere in my city. The garden seems to be in sympathy, the iris corms knobbly in the rich, dark earth, sprouting tough, bright leaves, yellow to green to blue-grey. The snowdrops are glowing like exquisite little lamps. As I draw, I notice spikes … Read More
It’s hibernation weather. But from a window, I notice the garden’s rhythms as it works its way through midwinter. Waving, looping, bristling, springing – each plant is moving in its own way… What starts me off on this view is the three-cornered leeks. Big, soft loops of fresh green, these will … Read More
In late afternoon, I spot the first shocking pink cyclamen flowers and draw them quickly, in the last of the day’s light. Leave them overnight and they’ll have been snacked-on by a passing creature. I grab a highlighter. Watercolour alone isn’t up to the brightness of these flowers and even … Read More
Rain tomorrow. But today, there’s still snow. As it recedes, the hydrangea leaves hang, sodden and weary from the freeze. The conifer branches, released, ping back up. I want to catch it while I can, matt, sculptural snow against the dark gloss of the leaves. But first, I go outside, … Read More