Prospect Cottage & Derek Jarman's Garden

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The filmmaker's Kent cottage is the perfect blend of bleak and beautiful

Much is made of grand, regimented gardens, all herbaceous borders and well-pruned roses, symmetry and sundials. But this week’s most loved post extols the virtues of a humbler horticultural style, exemplified by that at Prospect Cottage, the Dungeness home of the late filmmaker Derek Jarman. The cottage is a simple wooden structure, painted black with vivid yellow accents, with a verse from John Donne's poem The Sun Rising inscribed on the side. It sits on a wide, shivery expanse of shingle, gazing out over the harsh Kent coastline, surrounded by a riot of colour that has been etched out of the inhospitable ground.

The garden works as a metaphor for Jarman’s life and work. It is improbable and brave, filled with a narrative momentum and enigma, considered, beautiful, and ultimately lonely. Despite the fanfare of the Chelsea Flower Show, perhaps it is the quiet genius of Dungeness that provides the best inspiration for aspiring gardeners – it is a story of beauty emerging from the unlikely, art from the found, beauty from the bleak. Here we talk to its lover, Tish Wrigley, about the perfect holiday cottage and her own gardening hopes and fears, along with a gallery of our favourite gardens from Loves.

Why did you choose to love this house?
I like black houses and beach houses, and houses with stories about them, and houses with stories literally written on them. So it's kind of ideal. 

Who would you take for a holiday there?
Tamara, Ludo, Issie and Nicole – it would be 2015's Cockrobin. 

What’s your favourite Derek Jarman moment?
His diaries – all sex, poetry and gardening. 

What’s your favourite famous abode?
My friend lives on the street in Winchester where Jane Austen died. There's a lovely green plaque on the house declaring its historical import, and underneath, blue tacked to the window, is a surly note declaring the occupant will brook no enquiries or photos.

What’s your favourite location for a weekend cottage retreat?
Inverpolly – northernmost tip of Scotland. Takes a century to get to, but there is nowhere quite like it. 

Prosepect Cottage is celebrated for its garden – are you green fingered?
I'm obsessed with trying to become so – althought the jasmine plant quietly wilting on the blacony implies my dreams are but compost. 

What’s your favourite flower?

What are you looking forward to most about summer?
My thoroughly melodramatic birthday party. 

What was the last thing you bought?
A copy of Derek Jarman's Garden – only right. Howard Sooley's pictures are wonderful.