Derek Jarman outside Prospect Cottage Photo by Howard Sooley

Derek Jarman Pocket Park blog – part 11

Unexpected visitors, our new zine and Manchester Pride!

Since our last blog post, we have had some unexpected visitors in the Derek Jarman Pocket Park! You may remember that we were trialling a bird feeder, hoping to encourage some more wildlife into the space and increase the biodiversity. In short, we wanted to attract birds to the garden to deal with the greenfly outbreak on the hellebores!

We hung the bird feeder high in the birch tree and filled it with sunflower hearts. The good news is that within a couple of days, the feeder was being visited frequently by pairs of chattering goldfinches. We were basking in our success when we noticed that the planting around the base of the birch tree was not thriving. Newly planted seedlings had disappeared and the miniature Pride flags that we had put among the seedlings were flattened! For a while we couldn’t understand what was happening until we caught the culprits in the act!

It turns out that goldfinches are messy eaters and bits of sunflower hearts were falling through the birch tree branches onto the seedlings below. The eagle-eyed city pigeons didn’t miss a trick and were having a feast as well as trampling the plants….so unfortunately for now, the bird feeder has gone back in the shed while we work out an alternative plan.

Photos: Mindy Meleyal

Our second group of unexpected visitors arrived along with the Manchester City FC celebratory parade that passed by Manchester Art Gallery one evening in June. Unfortunately, some of the fans got carried away in their enthusiasm and scaled the Art Gallery fences to get into the garden. They stood on whatever they could find in order to get a better view of their team passing by. This included the living roof of the specially designed shelter as well as some of the planters. We spent the following gardening session rescuing the flattened grasses and putting in plant supports to help them recover. Some replacement planting will also be needed for the plants that didn’t survive.

Undeterred by the bird feeder fiasco, we are keeping a log of the increasing range of wildlife that is finding a home in the garden. This year we have seen many more worms – always welcome – and some ladybirds too. We have also found our first slug! Hopefully there won’t be too many of them! Now the garden is coming into flower, we are also noticing more pollinators, which is very good news.

We are delighted to be launching our new zine, which you can access here.

Photos: Luciana Lang

Lets Get Botanical Together provides a complete record of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park project from the early online meetings that took place during lockdowns to the present time where the garden is fully up and running, being enjoyed by visitors every day. The zine was created by Luciana Lang, an ethnographer and researcher at Manchester University who has been an integral part of the project, conducting her research alongside us all and doing her fair share of gardening too! Massive thanks go to Luciana for presenting the story of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park in such a wonderful format. The whole team involved in the project will certainly treasure their copies of the zine for many years to come.

Finally, as part of Manchester Pride on Sunday 27 August many of us will be in the garden running creative workshops, including drawing from nature, photography and creating biodegradable plants pots to take home and grow your own flowers. The sessions will take place between 12-4pm, so head on down to Manchester Art Gallery and enjoy some creative time in nature. Details of the events are in the What’s On calendar.

If you have any comments about our blog or the Derek Jarman Pocket Park you can contact the gallery at [email protected]

– Hazel Errey, member of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park Group


The Derek Jarman Pocket Park is supported by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Pocket Parks, Pride in Ageing at the LGBT Foundation ManchesterThe IGNITION ProjectRoyal Horticultural SocietyExterior ArchitectureThe Postcode Lottery Trust, Manchester Wellbeing Fund and United Utilities.