Back in 2013, a rare wild orchid, the White Helleborine, was found quietly growing in Buckingham Palace grounds among the garden plants. One hadn’t been seen in London since 1900. How it escaped the attention of the gardeners is anyone’s guess.

Even small gardens can be home to hidden wild plants and animals, if you look beyond the most obvious garden plants. Mosses and liverworts grow on the paths, tiny wild plants grow in the flower beds while pollinating insects and other invertebrates hunt for food.

Inspired by the theme ‘Hidden Nature’ us creative nature writers explored the Institute’s wonderful garden searching for overlooked treasures as part of the PLANTinum Jubilee activities on Sunday 5th June. Our finds inspired pieces of ultra-short creative nature writing, ‘Thumbnail Nature’, which you can read below. There are no rules, no restrictions with Thumbnail Nature writing – creators are encouraged to be free and easy with grammar, spelling and other writing formalities.


Amanda Tuke – workshop leader


The world’s smallest ikebana trembles on a single stem. At the base, crimson maple leaves, stolen from an ant’s Canadian flag. Then, green lanterns hang like fairies’ lights. Finally, pink petals – the shade of my childhood room. “Look close,” Shining Cranesbill whispers“ and travel far with me”.



Stuck on my jeans, stuck on my cat, in the garden, in the woodland, one cannot escape them.
But when stung by nettle or in need of a boost, their secret magic surely will help you.
Whether you see them as friend or foe cleavers will always stick to you.

Sonak Deerpalsing



Capillary Thread Moss

To the tiny aphid it’s an equatorial jungle; a tangled labyrinth of giant roots in a towering rainforest. As I go eye to eye with its minute quivering antennae, to me it’s a dappled, soft pillow of moss.

Kim Hart


“The flowers are sooo tiny, I can’t see them without a lens”, I say, squinting at the wood dock. Its stacked flowers with yellow stamens tremble with the slightest air shift, as garden visitors squeeze past me. I turn a red-veined leaf & a moon-bodied spider shrinks away from the exposure.

Amanda Tuke


Shining Cranesbill

Little scarlet leaves, shine bright midst
Damped-down greens of wet Sunday afternoon.
Exquisite, unexpected, outperforming all.
Brings to mind a garden left behind
Herb Robert, a welcome colonizer
Of window-boxes, cracks and empty pots.
Nature lending me a helping hand with
Cushions of delicate leaves and purple flowers.

Jacqui Thomson

Herb Robert


Back hair, veins and arteries, ball sacks,
Colorful, intricate, cellular,
Functional, structural, living.
Described is a blend of elements found ubiquitously as well as seldomly.
Because distinguishment, differences and resemblance can never be wholly stated.
Such is nature: within us, without us, and wholly, us.