Out of the old

There's a dead shrub in the garden, undermined by the ivy, left standing for bird feeders. But wandering my urban plot for things to draw, I see that it's hosting new life, green with lichen and this year for the first time, sporting rich red-brown fungus, waxy, gathered into its elbow. The bark is so un-bark-like that it takes two goes to draw, going for green the second time and the rough sculpture marks of its cracks and folds.

Out of the dark, wet, soil and dry leaf mould are springing the second snowdrops, hyacinth-like, blue-striped with lemon yellow pollen. Red holly berries are dotted around – they'll be baby trees soon if I leave them. Much as I think of soil as brown, brown is, I've discovered, no good to describe its richness. Mine is purply-black crumble, all depth and texture.

Nearby, the aquilegia has been quietly getting going, its matt, scalloped leaves dusted with blue and where they join the stems, soft dots of sharp pink. I work the watercolour wet for these, adding colour quickly before it dries.

Maybe there's a lesson from sketching these bright young things – what's over, is not; from the old, new. So it is with the perpetual motion of the garden.

Ballpen, watercolour and fineliner on handed-down paper.

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