Treasure in the shade

A showery day, sharp light clamped under rain clouds, brings up the contrast between the shade and the things that grow there. All the better, then, for spotting treasure.

A solitary white sweet pea has its own complex scent, holding its own against the lavender I’ve climbed over to investigate. And just by, the first white Borlotti bean flower, these, for want of garden canes, planted to climb a rose bush.

Except that nothing is ever just white. The Borlotti bean flower has the palest hint of the speckled pink bean to come. And the sweet pea glows soft yellow at its heart.

The rain varnishes the tomatoes, singing out from their pots, now overgrown by the sage. There’s so much to see through drawing – the transparency of their colour, the hairy little stems with their knuckle joints to the flower heads, the glorious irregularity of their leaves and today, the fruits sparkling with tiny raindrops. A tomato is never a quick sketch.

Biro, watercolour, fineliner, on waste paper.

Read my article about Dispatches from a Small World in Sublime magazine.

My April illustration of the whole garden is on show at Town House Open, Spitalfields, London, from 10 July until 12 September.