Violets grow like weeds at my mum’s house, in the borders around the edge of the lawn. It’s a long time since I sat out drawing in the front garden at Smeath House and I’d forgotten how peaceful it is here. Three rival blackbirds are singing from corners of the shrubbery. The variegated beech tree, planted by the mill-owning Baines family who built the house, shades the front lawn so that the habitat now resembles a woodland glade.
In 1960, when I was aged nine, I drew a sketch map of the bird life of shrubbery, lawn and house, including blackbirds, starlings and sparrows.
The bluebells – which I don’t believe we ever planted – look like natives. The bells hang down, while the more vigorous Spanish bluebells, which grow in the border in our own back garden, face outwards.