Wednesday dawned bright and sunny, as did every day we were there, we were so lucky with the weather. Jane was up and about at the crack of dawn but I savoured my cup of tea in bed! We had our breakfast and set off at 9.15 on the road through Romney Marsh, destination Dungeness. I have long wanted to see Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage and garden on Dungeness beach after seeing it many times on television. He was a film director,stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener and author. He was diagnosed H.I.V. positive which prompted him to buy the cottage in the shadow of Dungeness Power Station and make, what he called, a post modernist garden.

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The area is one long shingle beach exposed to the east winds but certain plants still thrive there. Echiums, valerian, thistles, sea kale and the horned poppy which I have never seen before and one of the reasons I wanted to see the area.

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It is just a lovely wild area with cottages dotted along its perimeter and it would be really quite spooky on a wild misty day.


We had so much to see and do so, reluctantly, we left and carried on down the coast, stopping to take the odd photo. I loved this view of the field of gold with the wind farm behind.


Our next stop was the little town of Rye, an old smugglers haunt.



This was a Cotinus of Smoke Bush and you can see why when you look at the fluffy flowers.

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It was getting on for lunch time and we were very hot and very hungry so Jane treated us to our lunch and we drove to the nature reserve, parked the car and walked along to the beach.


We sat on the shingle and ate our sandwiches and fruit in blazing sunshine but with a lovely sea breeze. Jane decided she was going to paddle so she and Hayley limped over the shingle to the sea, barefoot and making lots of noise while I looked after the bags and took photos.


I had a paddle too and it was wonderful, we didn’t want to put our boots back on! However, onwards and upwards and back to the car. Hayley whisked us off then to the jewel in the crown…………Great Dixter. What an utterly fabulous garden and house, somewhere I never thought I would be able to visit. I’m sure you all know it was the late Christopher Lloyd’s garden where he experimented with clashing colours after taking out the rose beds. Here are just some of the gardens.

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Can you see the pillars made up of tiles and “Christo’s” old wooden wheelbarrow?



And now to the exotic garden which had the water sprinklers spraying so walking round it was a bit of a gamble!

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Look at this huge Gunnera.

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That border was “as high as an elephant’s eye!”, fabulous. I loved the way they had planted squashes on the compost heaps.

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Christopher Lloyd’s parents had purchased Gt.Dixter in 1910 for £6000! They brought the architect Edward Lutyens in to redesign it and this is a Lutyen’s gate.


More gorgeous colours.

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How could I resist this little one?


“Christo always had dachshunds but whether this is one of his we don’t know.


We were flagging by now so repaired to the barn for a cuppa and look round the shop. We then went to look inside the house and it was just beautiful. We weren’t allowed to take photos, sadly, as the hall was enormous with huge beams, apparently the largest hall in England. The guide was brilliant, very informative and amusing. We moved into the library where another guide was just as good. He was the conservation head of 104 properties in the area! Upstairs we looked at the room where “Christo” would sit every evening and it was furnished with a mix of old and very modern furniture and views over the gardens. The whole place had a lovely atmosphere and I would love to visit it again.

This is the view from the car park over the countryside.


Off we went  back to Hayleys for a welcome cuppa and sit down. We were starting to feel sad knowing it was our last evening but were treated to another yummy meal with great company, chat, laughter, a quiz or two and the odd glass or two!

What a fabulous time we had down in Kent and huge thanks to H and her lovely family, not forgetting Philip of course. The happy memories will stay with us for a long time.


19 Responses

  1. gertie says:

    Fabulous, absolutely fabulous :lol: :good: :rose: Lovely photos and what a treasure Hayley is :love: :rose:

  2. Allan says:

    Very nice :good: but Not one photo of Philip, :-( :-)

  3. dandlyon says:

    What a lovely set of pictures, almost like being there :good:

  4. You’ve really done our trip justice, Cilla, with your choice of photos for the blogs and excellent commentary :rose: Truly memorable :love:

  5. cilla says:

    Thanks Jane, can we go back next week? :lol:

  6. Beanstew says:

    The three of you certainly packed a lot into a couple of days, Cilla – gorgeous photographs. I have been to Rye, but must make a point of visiting Great Dixter sometime soon, in memory of Christopher Lloyd who wrote the first gardening book I ever read, and must be the reason why my patch is an undisciplined jungle. Needless to say, his garden isn’t – just glorious bountifulness.

  7. cilla says:

    It was just beautiful Bean but not for the “neat” gardener :lol:

  8. VegVamp says:

    A wonderful blog Cilla, thank you. I loved Gt. Dexter too, though was there very early in the year; seeing your gorgeous photos of it in full on colour make me more determined to go back. Derek Jarman’s garden will be on my list for next time as well. :good: Thank you a lovely read.

  9. cilla says:

    Well don’t think you are going without us :lol: I was so convinced H would have spirited you there.

  10. Hayley says:

    I have re-lived every step of the way here Cilla, thank you for blogging it so well. Just a tad concerned however that we did far toooooo much! So…
    A warm re-visit awaits you to relax a bit more next time. :-)
    It was a pleasure to spend a short spat of time with two fabulous clickers, loved every minute. :love: :rose:

  11. dixon says:

    Looks like a fun clicker break :rose: :walt: :drink: , maybe it should have been a swim rather than a paddle though. :lol: looks like a beautiful area to visit.

  12. shedsue says:

    Again how fab to be in a garden with gardeners, you know what I mean :-) …what a difference to Sissinghurst. That’s the thing about gardening, we all have different ideas

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