Saturday, January 26, 2013


 In December, a friend Mark Moisinski wrote a blog post on the quiet, unbelievably beautiful and uncanny place called Dungeness in Kent, England. It made me think of my visit last year with my friends from Great Dixter and I searched around for my photos. It was Emma's birthday trip, a strikingly beautiful Sunday in March, and she wanted to go to Dungeness and sit by the sea and visit the late Derek Jarman's garden at Prospect Cottage. I was eager to go as I had first heard about this place from a talk by Marco Polo Stefano the summer before. He showed slides (actual slides) of a garden, by the sea, but it looked like a desert, surrounded by sand, rocks, bright sun, and the infamous nuclear power plant. The images of sculptures, succulents, rocks and flowers against the backdrop of a blue, blue sky and distant towers were memorable, and I always hoped to visit one day.

Of course being there was better than the slide show. There is a very peculiar feeling about the place and it is unlike anywhere else I have ever been before. It is a little eerie, quiet, timeless, and so peaceful. The beach is long and very wide, with rolling, rocky dune-like hills and all along the way there are remnants of a fishing industry with amazing weedy, tough and miraculous plants growing in salty rocks. There are abandoned boats, odd pieces of metal and long lines of nets scattered along the coast.

The colors of the day were so vibrant- mostly of blues and yellows.

A glimpse of the rolling surf. The day was unseasonably warm and we all did go swimming- well, most of us anyway.

Emma Seniuk and Rachael Dodd standing outside Derek Jarman's garden. I love the crazy verticals in this shot. Rachael was just interviewed in this month's Garden's Illustrated as the first in a series showcasing the brightest new gardening talent!

The colors of the day were just spectacular- the yellow of the beach, to the flowers, to the tip of the rock sculpture- all against cerulean skies.

Evidence of work with a wheelbarrow and sod dug and new gardens turned over. You can see the power plant towers in the background.

The living and non-living were equally a part of the garden. The rocks, the structures, the sculptures, the beach, and the nuclear power plant were all valuable pieces- it was a garden that brought all of its surroundings into it (including us). It was more than a reflection, more like an extenuation, of this magical and mysterious place called Dungeness.

There were no borders keeping something in or out, nothing to separate- the landscape, garden, sculptures and towers were all continuations of each other.


  1. Hi Helen, Great post! I have always wanted to visit Derek Jarman's garden. Thanks for taking me there.

    1. It was good to go there myself this cold week of January! Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Hello Helen,
    To my shame I have only just taken a look at your blog.
    It is a very good read and great pictures. Nice to see pictures of Gordon and Mary's garden. It is encouraging to look back at pictures of summer gardens at this time of year. We have had a few inches of snow which has hung around until today when the weather has gone very mild and the snow melted overnight. Plenty of winter left yet but with the nights getting shorter and this mild weather it inspires you to get out and do somethong in the garden and boy does my garden need some work.
    Very best wishes Paul

    1. Hi Paul, Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I am glad you found posts on Gordon and Mary's garden. It sounds like you are (not surprisingly) nearer to Spring that we are! I get ready for spring right after the new year and then have about 3 months of snow to go.
      Best wishes to you and I am enjoying your blog.

  3. Beautiful, Helen! So crazy that you posted this yesterday- Rachel went again with another student. Yesterday! Too crazy. I didn't go, was having too much fun with Dan Pearson and Hew. Cannot wait to see you. Miss you so much. xo