Before rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck into creating our own little green oasis, the Derek Jarman Pocket Garden at Manchester Art Gallery, we took the opportunity to visit some green spaces in and around Manchester. Our visits included places reflecting the LGBTQ+ community’s struggle for recognition and rights as well as places offering a much needed breathing space within our city along with hope for the future of our environment.
Our first visit at the end of May was quite momentous as we were able to meet each other in person for the first time. After months of Zoom meetings due to the pandemic restrictions, it was fun to see if our game of ‘guess the height’ of everyone proved to be correct!
We met at Sackville Gardens, which seemed the best place to start as one of the most well-known green spaces in the city linked to the LGBTQ+ community.
Alan Turing statue & Transgender memorial
Apart from enjoying the peaceful green space, we took our time to admire the very first statue and memorial for Alan Turing and to reflect on the National Transgender Remembrance Memorial, and the Beacon of Hope Memorial. We also visited the communal garden at the Grade II listed building Victoria Square in Ancoats, which was the first municipal housing built in Manchester in 1894 and now houses around 170 older people. Peter, who is a resident at Victoria Square, showed us round and told us the story of the late Dame Gracy, their gardener for several years (view a film about them made by Northwards Housing here).
Whitworth Art Gallery garden
Victoria Square, Ancoats
Over the next three months, we visited a range of parks, gardens, and urban green spaces. Along the way we made new friends and contacts including the team from Exterior Architecture who showed us round their spectacular new KAMPUS communal courtyard garden near Canal Street (and will be helping us with the design of our space). After a sculpture trail around Whitworth Park, Patrick Osborn the Whitworth Art Gallery’s Head Gardener told us more about the planting and maintenance of the Whitworth’s Art Garden and Alex Bernstein Garden, designed by Chelsea Flower Show Gold winner Sarah Price. Before a sunny stroll around Peel Park (a favourite subject of Salford artist L.S. Lowry), Rosie Naylor from RHS Bridgewater and Miranda Clarke from City of Trees showed us the fantastic work the IGNITION Living Lab is undertaking at Salford University.
Derek Jarman Pocket Park group
IGNITION Living Lab, Salford University
The IGNITION Living Lab with its innovative ideas and design, got us thinking about how urban gardens not only benefit mental wellbeing but also support environmental sustainability in a time of climate emergency. As a result of this visit, and with the support of IGNITION and RHS Bridgewater, the planters for our garden will be sustainable as well as stylish!
Our final visit and showstopper of a garden was the newly opened RHS Bridgewater. We felt very privileged to be shown round by Rosie Naylor who explained how the garden had been conceived and developed as well as naming every plant! It is a truly impressive garden in so many ways – the stunning design and planting, the blend of history and horticulture and the commitment to community involvement, wellbeing and sustainability.
RHS Bridewater & Kampus
We hope our urban green adventures inspire you to get out exploring the green spaces in and around Manchester!
But back to our space outside Manchester Art Gallery….
Suitably enthused by our visits, our own little patch is cleared, weeded and ready to go! Our beautifully designed sustainable planters are being made and our green shelter is being designed as we write. We can’t wait to get our hands dirty and invite you to the Derek Jarman Pocket Park ….. watch this space!
Paul Everitt and Hazel Errey, members of the Derek Jarman Pocket Park Group
60 Marvellous Manchester Parks And Gardens To Get You Back To Nature
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 Manchester, The IGNITION Project, Royal Horticultural Society, Exterior Architecture, The Postcode Lottery Trust and Manchester Wellbeing Fund.