Into the Jungle

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!


More offerings…


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.

My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors.

Some posts are more whimsical than others. There is a nod to practicality in my planting advice and plant portraits.

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder.


34 Comments Add yours

  1. What a great adventure! I just bought some deep colored dahlias at the farmer’s market…normally I like light pink or white or purple, but those deep maroon colored dahlias really jumped out at me!

    1. Ali says:

      I love deep maroon dahlias; they’re the thinking woman’s dahlia!

  2. Well done Ali, so interesting, imaginative and funny!

  3. Linda Casper says:

    What a charming story to wake up to this morning. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Linda; I am glad you enjoyed it.

  4. janesmudgeegarden says:

    You’ve excelled yourself today! What an adventure and what fun it was to read. Thanks, Ali.

  5. Beautiful post. Lovely descriptions of colours.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Derrick. The colours were magnificent. I am working on a whole post on colour – I think I am going to schedule it for Wednesday.

    2. Ali says:

      No, tomorrow! It’s done!

  6. Claudette says:

    Lovely Garden, thanks for sharing your adventures.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s my pleasure, Claudette.

  7. Emma Cownie says:

    I loved the “jungle”. What an amazing garden.

    1. Ali says:

      It is a fantastic adventurous place to play!

  8. Penny Post says:

    Great post and so many inspirational combinations.

    1. Ali says:

      It is totally inspired.

  9. pommepal says:

    Your imagination and play with words and photos took me into a mystical kingdom, loved it

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, thank you. You say the best things!

  10. What a wonderful adventure. I would love to visit Great Dixter. The planting is amazing.

    1. Ali says:

      I am always happy to take you there!

      1. I may accept your offer some fine day. 🌼

      2. Ali says:


  11. bcparkison says:

    A private adventure! The best kind. How nice of the gardener to sidestep the closed gate. Beautiful place…just glad I don’t have to water all of that.

    1. Ali says:

      The gardeners were lovely.

  12. Anna says:

    Oh I am so glad that we did not have to launch a search party to get you and your mum out of the jungle Ali. As you say it’s “managed chaos” but oh so skilfully and imaginatively done. A fabulous garden! I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Anna; it is lovely to share it with you.

  13. Heyjude says:

    You really are bonkers Ali, in the nicest way. Do you write stories for children, because you should. You have such an imagination. I can almost visualise a series of books based on different flower characters and their adventures in the garden where they live. The visiting insects, the weather, the gardener.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Jude. At various points I have thought about it…

  14. fredgardener says:

    What a lovely garden to spend time.!..Exotic and relaxing I suppose.

    1. Ali says:

      It is, Fred. It has a very different feel from National Trust gardens; far more relaxed about everything.

  15. Nicky says:

    Well done for surviving your adventure 🙂

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