Tiny trees

“So how do holly trees have babies?” I had been telling a group of friends about a new generation that I was off to draw.

Presents from the birds, we used to call them in my family – plants that arrive, neither sown, nor planted by us.

It’s the wood pigeons that have brought these. I’ve reported in sketches as they’ve snacked their way messily down the holly tree, I’ve drawn the dropped berries… and here’s the latest on three tiny trees.

In a wonderful display of nature doing its thing, as a small tree in the garden has died back, the little leaves at its feet have grown into a fine young seedling. Two younger siblings sit in the chard bed, one next to a snowdrop, the other hugging a plant label.

Already glossy-leaved, they’re tricky to draw, particularly in the chill of a late London afternoon in January. Lime-green veins and borders, dark green that needs dollops of grey and turquoise and little sparks of yellow where the prickly edges come to a point. There’s scale, too, to consider, leaving in just enough to show how little these little’uns are.

Two may need to be moved – but may they all thrive and make homes and food for the wildlife.

Ballpen, watercolour, fineliner on waste paper.

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