But regulations apply to collecting such objects, Bingham points out: “To forage sustainably and responsibly, stick to your garden or to items that have fallen to the ground or died. Only collect from plentiful populations. It’s illegal [in the UK] to dig up or remove plants in public gardens and parks. All taxidermy should come from a licensed dealer.”
As the book reveals, the compulsion to deck out homes with natural history is often ignited by childhood memories of encountering taxidermy in shops or museums, or of collecting striking stones and bones in the great outdoors.
Horticulturalist Sean Barton, whose home is featured in the book, traces his interest in natural history back to childhood holidays in Wales: “There was a shop in Tenby, south Wales that sold taxidermy, and I always came home with a stuffed snake or puffer fish,” remembers Barton, who collects rare plants as well as taxidermy, the latter often bought at auction.
Natural history buffs usually find older, ornate interiors with rich, dark wall colours better suited to displaying natural objects, rather than colder, clean-lined rooms. And they like an atmosphere that triggers memories of museums. “I love the smell of museums, their wood panelling and old books. I painted my hall a mahogany brown,” says Barton, who is obsessed with orchids, which he displays with ferns, terrariums, antlers, taxidermy and shells.