My art practice for the last ten years, has been about climate change and sea level rise - and in that ten years it is has become climate crisis. I have made works on paper and several films and have also collaborated with other artists to make work in response to the sea.
When I moved into this wonderful but neglected house on the cliff, it needed a great number of basic alterations to make it suitable for me to live and work in as an artist.
As I made the work and altered the house and studios, my rather boring ‘suburban’ garden with its patch of demanding and unloved and unpleasant grass, narrow drive, parking space and dark evergreen shrubs, glowered at me, and the temptation was just to look beyond it to the sea…
But all the while, a plan was forming in my imagination, to completely change it from stereotypical suburbia and to link it visually to the open space beyond, to the harbour arm and its connection with transport, its industrial past, to the surrounding vegetation and the wonderful light of the sea.
Having made my house as sustainable as I could, I felt that the garden should also do its very best for nature, especially the bees and butterflies which in so many areas are declining in number.
I started to draw, and the plan started with overlapping circles to break up the strong rectangular shape - which narrowed the garden visually and to minimise the square footage available.
Apart from the geometric beauty of circles, I felt as I lived overlooking the sea, and always aware of the sea and sky and moon, that I lived on a beautiful planet. Our connection with the universe and the planets’ orbits is profound and these circles reflect this.
The largest circle breaks up the straight line of the drive and widens the vista. It also passes over the pond as a bridge. The pond is important for wildlife but it also reflects the sky and animates the space. the paths can be a circuitous stroll to my front door or can be never-ending. One can take one’s time. The third circle I envisaged as pebbles as a reference to the beach just down the steps in front of the house. I have placed a hawthorn tree at it’s centre to increase the vertical interest, add colour and for the birds.
Recycled railway sleepers make the pathways and the bridge visually connect to the Harbour Arm’s station, which historically used to deliver the passengers on The Orient Express to their ships.
The hard landscaping began in July 2018, so this was the start of a journey of discovery, very hard work, some disappointment and true joy.
Even though the garden is very new and needs continued work to make it more wildlife friendly, Kent Wildlife Trust has awarded it bronze in its Wildlife Garden awards.
Many thanks to
Rob Hedley Dray:
Wild Flower turf:
JULY 2018 - JULY 2019
In November 2020 I was invited with other wonderful gardeners to take part in a discussion about rewilding, with Frances Tophill from BBC 'Gardeners World', here is a link to the broadcast:
This is a pic of my beautiful wild flower meadow this summer (2019) after a wonderful year of transformation.
The garden is buzzing with bees, butterflies and birds...
The year's journey...