UK Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) this year has inaugurated the RHS Garden Bridgewater near Manchester. The project which was delayed by almost a year due to the coronavirus pandemic is Europe’s largest newest garden. And it is turning into a top attraction for the Greater Manchester area.

The Royal Horticultural Society is actually a gardening charity with a commitment to enrich everyone’s lives through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. The RHS is raised £40 million to transform gardens, outreach and education facilities. The money has gone to the redevelopment of the flagship RHS Garden Wisley and for the opening of a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater.

The 62.5 hectare RHS Garden Bridgewater is located in Salford in the Greater Manchester area. It is the biggest hands-on horticultural project undertaken in Europe. Around 7.8 million people living within an hour’s journey time of the garden as well as tourists are now able to access world-class horticultural inspiration and expertise at the first ever RHS Garden to be located in an urban area.

According to Head of RHS Garden Bridgewater, Richard Green, “A huge thank you must also go to our incredible team of more than 700 local volunteers who freely give their time to pitch in with everything from bricklaying to giving tours, and without whom none of this would be possible. This collaborative approach is what has made RHS Bridgewater such a unique and special project.”

RHS Garden Bridgewater is turning into a gardening inspiration, education and engagement in the heart of the North West. More than a quarter of a million plants have gone into the ground, representing a huge boost for biodiversity in the area.

Since May, visitors can discover areas including the 11-acre Weston Walled Garden, the jewel in the crown of RHS Garden Bridgewater, believed to be the largest publicly-accessible working walled garden in the UK. It is home to the spectacular Paradise Garden by Tom Stuart-Smith, showcasing exotic planting inspired by Asiatic and Mediterranean gardens. The nearby Kitchen Garden by award-winning Harris Bugg Studio showcases productive growing techniques and both familiar and more unusual edibles.

The Community well-being Garden, Community Grow area and Peel Learning Garden, supported by The Peel Group, are just some of the community-focused spaces that can also be found within the Weston Walled Garden, alongside the Orchard Gardens and the first dedicated RHS Trials ground outside of the flagship RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, where various plants will be assessed for their performance in the northern climate.

The Chinese Streamside Garden at RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Manchester (Photo : Chris Gorman / RHS 12th May 2021)

A garden dedicated to communities

Elsewhere, visitors can explore the beginnings of the Chinese Streamside Garden, which is the first authentic Chinese garden in the UK when complete and the Woodland Play area designed to encourage children of all ages to engage with nature.

The RHS is investing £35m in the creation of the garden, which the charity forecasts should generate around £13.2m per year for the local economy by 2030, and has created more than 100 jobs at the site. Salford City Council and the RHS worked together to promote jobs at the garden to local residents and almost 50% of the roles created to date have been filled by people living within eight kilometres of the garden. The City Council contribution into the project reached £19 million.

Tom Stannard, Salford City Council’s Chief Executive, said: “RHS Garden Bridgewater has created another world class attraction in Salford and is contributing towards tourism and economic growth in Greater Manchester. We’re proud to have negotiated an agreement for local residents to visit the garden free every Tuesday. This is the first time the RHS has given free access to the community around one of its gardens so Salford is already making its mark and doing things differently.”


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