I fell in love with Dungeness a few years ago. On my first visit I couldn’t take in the vast strangeness of the place, the stretching shingle, seemingly washed up fishing boats, mini dwellings that look as though they have been collected on the beach along with the treasures and shells they are decorated with. It is a weird and wonderful place, and one I’m am never surprised to see used as a backdrop for fashion shoots. The excitement of arriving by the baby train and the draw of the extended horizon meant that in all my trips I had never taken a stroll to see Derek Jarman’s famous garden. Having seen so many photos of Prospect Cottage in the local artists studios I felt as though I had been there myself, or at least walked past, as most of them feature the view from the roadside. Time to make amends.
There are no boundaries in Dungeness so you can’t shake the feeling of trespassing as you start to pick your way through the garden. Thankfully there are lots of curiosities to spark your attention and you start to relax into the strange little world within a world that Jarman created. Unsurprisingly, it has the feel of a work of art or film set, but bleeding out into the surrounding stark landscape it still manages to portray a rugged naturalness that makes it feel part of the place. Perhaps it’s the plants that have clung on in the extreme conditions that give it it’s permanence or the fact the sculptures look as though they have sprouted from the ground. What it has that all gardens should aspire to is that it is much more than just just a view from the window but a place to explore and enjoy.