I didn’t have any hesitation in putting Dungeness on my list of Kent gardens to visit, although when I walked around I began wondering whether this was because of my love of Derek Jarman’s garden. Because apart from certain notable exceptions, I think that the good folk of Dungeness have more on their minds than working for a Britain in Bloom status.
But of course Dungeness isn’t about normal cultivation. It’s brutal and wild and beautiful and surprising and humane and uplifting. It’s as far away from consumerism as you can get (apart from the irony that you now need a fortune to live there apparently!) It fitted perfectly into my secondary theme of the tension between public and private spaces.
Of course, every time I told anyone I was heading for Dungeness, they presumed I was writing about Prospect Cottage, but too many people have got there before me.
So instead I wandered around with my camera and notepad turning my gaze from horizon to details on the ground…
…and back to the horizon …
… until I noticed that what I was noticing were paths…
Even broken ones…
Up and down the garden path? I couldn’t resist.
So here’s my piece:
1. I want to build a path running up and down and around my body
2. I want to put down grass, and sand, and tiny pebbles, and sheepskin, and smooth oak, and cashmere
3. I want to tempt you to walk up and down my path in your bare feet
4. I want to keep my eyes closed to feel more, my ears shut to hear less
5. I want to feel your sole, the spring in your heel as you take off for the next step
6. I want the materials to keep switching around so neither of us knows what’s coming next
7. I want to spend hours thinking of new materials for my path
8. I want to add a line of feathers
9. I want those feathers to be so thick it’ll feel like floating
10. I want another line to feel as if I’m walking over your back
11. I want it to feel warm and giving under my toes, so I’m not sure if it’s your back or my back, you walking or me walking
12. I want to know it will hold us up, however heavy with sadness we are, it will hold us up
13. I want to walk up and down my path until I feel dizzy
14. I want that dizziness to turn into something grounded
15. I want us to admit we’re heading nowhere.
And then I went to artist Paddy Hamilton’s studio (who does have a beautiful garden – so much so it’s been featured on Gardener’s World), and what did I see but his path …
Here is Paddy with Toby Buckland, talking about the challenges and good things about gardening ‘on the edge’.
No paths, as far as I could see, but to finish here’s a short clip from Derek Jarman’s film, The Garden: