Plant Curator is working on the plant art aficionado’s ultimate UK road-trip. High up on the list of stop-off points is a small area of southern Kentish coast. Dungeness is a strangely beautiful, postmodern place. Wild and windswept, this isolated seascape inhabited by hundreds of plants and some pleasingly minimalist buildings, is made all the more atmospheric by its nuclear power station backdrop. Not exactly your typical tourist destination, more one you might visit to enter a dreamy recluse like state far from the distractions of the real world. Considered a landscape of international scientific and environmental importance it has the largest expanse of shingle beach in Europe, and is home to over 600 odd species of plants – some rare. Alongside nature’s own diversity and artistry is that of its residents, most notably the late English film director Derek Jarman (1942-1994), whose celebrated home – Prospect Cottage – is on the beach and is as arresting as any site-specific art installation. A tar black wooden hut with yellow trim, John Donne’s poetry carved on one side and surrounded by a currently blooming garden with driftwood sculptures and standing sacred stones. Other buildings, often incorporating old railway carriages, some inhabited, some not, scatter the beach creating a curious colony that adds to the stark allure of a place which remains in so many ways out on its own.
Photography: © John Pini & Brian James