EIGHTEEN original watercolours, created by one of Britain’s best-known wildlife artists for Ladybird’s much-loved illustrated non-fiction book What to Look For in Summer, will be on show at the National Trust’s Mottisfont this summer.

First published in 1960, Charles Tunnicliffe’s instantly recognisable artworks capture the landscapes, plants and wildlife of a summer season in the British countryside - swallows swooping over farmland on the hunt for insects, a water vole hiding on a river’s edge, an adder basking on sun-warmed dunes.

For decades, these exquisitely detailed scenes gave thousands of children the opportunity to learn more about the natural world around them. In ‘What to Look For in Summer’, the onlooker is drawn into a ‘hidden’ world of wildlife activity – a hedgehog on a twilight ramble for food, sea urchins and star fish lurking beneath a rock pool’s surface.

In Mottisfont’s gallery space, blown up sections of these illustrations also cover the walls, creating a feeling of immersion into the landscapes themselves.

Tunnicliffe was the most distinguished of all Ladybird’s artists. He had already made his name as a fine artist and was a member of the Royal Academy by the time he was invited to work with the publisher. He illustrated all four books in the original ‘What to Look For ... A Ladybird Book’ series.

Outside in the gardens’ Beech Circle, a unique gallery space has been created to host Bournemouth-based artist Natasha Durley’s digital illustrations for the new and updated Ladybird edition of ‘What to Look For in Summer’.

Published 60 years after Tunnicliffe’s originals, their vibrant, contemporary style aims to bring a new curiosity and awareness of nature to the next generation of Ladybird readers. Discover delightful scenes of swimming water voles, upside down bats, the colourful inhabitants of a cornfield, and strawberry-picking rabbits.

This is the first time that both the vintage and contemporary illustrations for ‘What to Look For in Summer’ have been displayed together.

Artist Natasha Durley: “I’m absolutely delighted that the first-ever public display of my illustrations is at Mottisfont – with its wildflower displays, stunning river, and ancient woodland – the property could be a scene from one of the books themselves!

Mottisfont’s new Sights & Sounds of Summer family adventure trail has loads of fun wildlife-themed challenges, inspired by the Ladybird illustrations on show in the house and in the gardens. Kids can time themselves in the ‘Roe Deer Races’ or test their agility on the ‘Beat the Osprey’ obstacle course. There are wildflower seed bombs to make too, plus tips to design a wildlife garden.

The events run from July 24 to September 5.