My mum and I went on an expedition to the jungle.
We didn’t fly there. We drove there in a little red mini.
We went unprepared, without a mosquito net or insect repellent. But we were wearing plenty of sun-cream.
We’d set out for Great Dixter. The expedition leader (me) failed to check whether it was open. It wasn’t. But the very lovely gardeners let us in anyway. So long as we kept a keen watch for hoses lying about. And pythons.
As you can see, the tropical garden is at its lush peak. There was clear evidence that we are in a long dry summer: you could smell the drought, but that just added to the atmosphere. This is the long border.
Just like in my garden, Phlox is absolutely fabulous. I love how there is a purple variety peeping out from behind the hot pink. I love these very slight changes in tone, where colours are close on the colour wheel, and share the same colour saturation. And then there is a contrast of the darkest maroon foliage and another lilac-white Phlox.
The thistles and Verbascum are towering overhead, and threatening to topple. The enormous manor house is drowned in the engulfing vegetation.
Everywhere we walked we had to hold teasels out of the way. We forgot our machetes. I love this tangle of Helenium, Phlox, Helianthus and Larkspur. It looks effortless. Is it effortless? Have the plants chosen where to grow?
It is managed chaos; an orchestrated pandemonium. Look at the blue Larkspur and the purple Phlox! Again, close on the colour wheel, looking ultraviolet. Then the contrast of brightest tangerine and darkest mahogany from Helenium. It is genius.
We were lost. We tried our emergency flares. They sent yellow streaks through the sky. But no one came to rescue us.
We pulled ourselves together. We are made of strong stuff. We crawled through this dry and arid desert.
We stumbled across painted pagodas: signs of ancient civilisations.
And paths hacked through the landscape.
There were strange sculptures…
Megalithic structures festooned in flowers,
The tusks of an ancient elephant.
And prehistoric plants.
We had to negotiate this crevasse.
And avoided the lava flow from this volcano.
Steam was belching from the crater.
I made a botanical discovery: pink Larkspur!
GAH! A sleeping woolly mammoth!
Dahlia alert! I LOVE that colour. Crimson touched with smoky blue.
There were offerings to the Gods and Goddesses:
An indigenous species! We hid.
They can make fire!
And a shrine, bathed in sunlight.
Beacons lit the way for us…
Through this narrow gorge…
Is this a pyramid in the early stages of construction?
Hang on… Is that water?
WATER!!! We have found our Shangri-la!
It was all worth it. We sat with the dragonflies and butterflies, and congratulated ourselves. We made it.