“Paradise haunts gardens…” Derek Jarman

I have no idea how long I have been thinking about going to see Derek Jarman’s garden- but it’s probably more than the twenty years since he died. I finally made it last Wednesday; drove from Rye, where we were staying for half term, on a persistently drizzly and grey day, through the marshes and strange flatness of Camber and Lydd. Across the pylon-plotted horizon with the odd caravan park nestling by their giant electric feet. And then without knowing until I saw it, there, a yellow framed, black stained timber building loomed into view through the mist and rain-spattered windscreen of my car.


With the BBC film crew van tucked into the side of the narrow road between the stretch of shingle and few houses, there on the right hand side, the garden. Here are some grey rainy shots of Jarman’s garden as it is now, twenty years after he died. As far as I know the house is owned by someone new but obviously aware and respectful of the legacy, and the garden remains. Below is a short film made by BBC Gardeners’ World in the first few years after Jarman passed on, where his partner is interviewed and talks about the garden, and which includes quotes from Jarman’s book…. now I have to go back when the weather is better in the Spring. Dungeness is magickal and it is easy to understand why he settled there.

DSC01353 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? DSC01344 DSC01343 DSC01342 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? DSC01338 DSC01337 ??????????????????????????????? DSC01335 DSC01332 DSC01331 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? DSC01326 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? DSC01319 DSC01317 DSC01316 DSC01315 ??????????????????????????????? DSC01313 DSC01312 DSC01310 DSC01309 DSC01308 DSC01304 ??????????????????????????????? DSC01302

Planned Journeys 1: Prospect Cottage

As part of my dissertation research I need to make some journeys. I am not sure when these will take place. One is to visit Derek Jarman’s garden in Dungeness. Prospect Cottage, where Jarman resided from 1986, until his death in 1994, is now privately owned but the garden is easily viewed from the road. I’ve meant to go there for years and the location fits in with some of the themes of the poetry I am writing.



The trampoline arrived yesterday and my Dad spent this afternoon assembling it. One very happy little boy has bounced himself silly this evening. I had a great time jumping up and down too! Still plenty to do but it’s wonderful to have achieved this part of the plan for the garden. I am hoping I can tend to the next job of clearing and digging over the veg patch while my son entertains himself being Zebedee...

Project Trampoline

???????????????????????????????It was my son’s sixth birthday recently and his dad and I managed to clear and dig over a large enough patch in the wilderness garden to be able to put a trampoline there, which was his main present. It made such a difference to have two of us working and we cleared the space and dug it over in less than a day, getting rid of as many brambles and bindweed shoots as possible in the process. trampoline2edit

It is now covered in heavy duty weed matting and bark. I just have to finish it off now and assemble the trampoline (yikes!) but have been busy writing assignments for my teaching qualification. Soon though, and then the small matter of sorting out the veg patch…and the rest of it…trampoline3edit

Fork it…again

I’ve started digging the garden again, after a few of half-hearted attempts in the last couple of years. This time I am going to try and re-reclaim the veg patch and clear another patch so that my son can have a trampoline.


Back in August 2009 I decided to tame the really wild patch at the end of the garden and turn it into a veg patch. You can see my efforts at the blog I devoted to this, Roar Earth. By August 2010 I was harvesting tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, kohl rabi, beetroot, beans and other delights. And later on that autumn I had a haul of courgettes, giant marrows, pumpkins and even one perfectly formed butternut squash!

It was hard work and I accomplished most of it by myself, with a bit of help from my niece and one weekend when a couple of old friends came down and did one solid day’s work which would have taken me another couple of weeks on my own!

But later on in the winter 2010, after being constantly ill with various bugs and viruses which I couldn’t shift, I was diagnosed with post-viral fatigue, and told to have complete rest. As a single parent in my final year of a degree this was bad news. The worst thing about it was being told there was no guarantee I would get better and that in fact I might get worse, oh and no treatment either…


I was pretty depressed about this, friends rallied and I wrote about it a bit. Then just after christmas I slipped while out walking with my son and friends and broke my wrist. At the time it felt like the last straw. It meant I couldn’t drive, couldn’t do lots of things I was still trying to do despite my doctor’s prescription of rest- how do you have complete rest when you are a single parent with an at-the-time three-year-old?

My father stepped in to help and I rested, put all my university assignments off, and did huge amounts less than I had- and started to feel better. Good days and bad. Then more good days but ever since I have not been able to do as much as I used to- so digging the garden had to drop off my agenda.


Last year I started running using the Couch to 5k podcasts available free from the NHSSAVE THE NHS–  and discovered I could run and that it helped my lower my stress levels and improved my energy. In September I ran 5k for Trees for Cities, and was hoping to run 10k for them at the end of May but have been too busy completing the postgraduate degrees I am currently studying, too tired and too flipping cold until recently. My aim is to start again this week. runningfinishtreeathloncrop

I really want my son to have a trampoline in the garden, which is the main reason I have gone back out there. But I am also desperate to grow some food again, especially as prices are skyrocketing and I have no money, and I would rather grow my own anyway, if I can. I still get very tired sometimes but I think I am ok and pretty healthy, so I feel very lucky. However my plan is to tackle the garden an hour or two at a time, a few days a week, and see how it goes. I may have some help later on which will be fantastic – but I also quite like pottering away out there…it’s great to be doing it again.


The last two weeks has involved mainly cutting down massive brambles, pulling up nettles where they are not wanted, and turning over some of the ground. I have cleared one small raised bed and that now has beetroot and chard sprouting in it.

Let’s see if I can get a trampoline in there for the summer…