Derek Jarman, Queer, 1992

Derek Jarman Pocket Park blog- Part 4

Derek Jarman Pocket Park – Digging Jarman: the planting begins!

After months of careful planning and overcoming many challenges, we have finally managed to get our hands into soil and start planting!

planting begins

The anticipation started to build as the planters and pergolas were installed followed closely by the shelter – all displaying the yellow and black theme, an important link to Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage.  A wet and grey February week could do nothing to dampen our spirits as we got stuck into the planting. Rosie Naylor, RHS Community Outreach Coordinator, provided all the necessary expertise for those of us less experienced in the art of teasing out pot-bound roots or knowing which trowel is best for bulb planting.  Who knew there were different types of trowels?

Mindy from Pride in Ageing

To reflect the time of year, we have planted a selection of beautiful hellebores, yellow stemmed dogwood and pittosporum. As we move into spring and summer, the tulips and daffodils will come into flower and perennial grasses such as miscanthus will start to show their new foliage. We are looking forward to watching the clematis and star jasmine climb their way over the pergolas as well!

climbing plants

During our recent planting sessions and as the garden took shape, we reflected back to our summer visits to other green spaces in and around Manchester, particularly the IGNITION Project at Salford University. At that time, we had no idea how we would achieve the level of water conservation that was needed to make the garden sustainable. It was only through the additional United Utilities funding and the ingenious, bespoke design created by Leon Davis for the garden’s shelter that this vital aspect of the garden has been realised. The shelter not only provides a focal point and a place to sit but also includes a sedum roof, carefully hidden water tanks and a rainwater chain.  All these features along with the cleverly constructed plant containers, mean that no additional water apart from Manchester’s generous rainfall, will be needed for the garden throughout the year.


The fact that the garden has finally come to fruition during LGBT History month feels perfect timing.  Along with the Derek Jarman PROTEST!exhibition  we have been able to focus public attention on the legacy of Jarman painter, film-maker, writer, set-designer, gardener and political and gay activist.  One of the highlights of this project has been learning more about Jarman and reflecting on his too-short life and the significant contribution he and his contemporaries made to the place where we in the LGBTQ+ community find ourselves today – not perfect by any means but much further down the road in being accepted for who we are with equal rights, able to love and marry (although not in all churches!) who we wish.

View of front of gallery and pocket park
Photo with kind permission from Hubbub and In Our Nature

There is still lots more work to do before the garden is complete including signage and more planting, including trees!  However, we have already had some media coverage including a BBC North West News feature shown on 24th February and a write-up by In Our Nature 

Look out for updates in the coming weeks about our garden launch event and make sure you don’t miss the Derek Jarman Protest!exhibition, which runs until 10th April along with events with resident artist, Jez Dolan. We also have lots of plans to spend time in the garden over the coming months, looking after it and holding events.  Please drop by and say hello – we’re always keen for an excuse to have a tea-break and the Gallery Café always has something tasty on offer!   

– Paul Everitt and Hazel Errey, members 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.