RHS Garden Bridgewater: Inside the spectacular new garden that's now open

·6-min read
Photo credit: Mark Waugh
Photo credit: Mark Waugh

The Royal Horticultural Society’s fifth garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, has finally opened and we can’t wait to experience world-class horticulture in a brand new setting.

Based on cutting-edge designs by some of our favourite RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold medal winners, the garden has biodiversity, sustainability and sensitivity to the local landscape right at its heart.

VISIT RHS BRIDGEWATER

It’s the perfect outdoor experience for Good Housekeeping readers looking for gardening inspiration, which is why we’ve created a fabulous four-day break where you can take in some of the finest gardens in England’s north west, including RHS Bridgewater. And to make the visit extra special, you’ll be shown around by its designer, Tom Stuart-Smith.

Ahead of the trip in July, we thought we'd bring you everything you need to know about this exciting new garden. Take a peek inside RHS Garden Bridgewater...

Where is RHS Garden Bridgewater?

The 154-acre garden is in Salford in Greater Manchester, on the former site of Elizabethan mansion Worsley New Hall, and is the first RHS garden to be created in an urban area.

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Already over a quarter of a million species have been planted to boost biodiversity in a mostly industrial and residential area.

When did the garden open to visitors?

Like so many events in the last year, the garden’s opening was delayed by the pandemic. RHS Garden Bridgewater finally opened its gates to the public on Tuesday, 18th May.

VISIT THIS SUMMER

Who designed RHS Garden Bridgewater?

One of Britain's best landscape architects, Tom Stuart-Smith (who has designed a whopping eight gold medal-winning gardens for the Chelsea Flower Show!), came up with the masterplan for the gardens.

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It was a huge project, beginning way back in 2017. Aided by a wonderful team, the individual spaces on the site were created by other award-winning garden designers from the Chelsea Flower Show.

MEET TOM ON AN EXCLUSIVE TOUR

What can you see at RHS Garden Bridgewater?

The 11-acre Weston Walled Garden is 'the jewel in the crown of RHS Garden Bridgewater'. It’s the largest working walled garden the public can visit in the UK.

Thanks to this garden’s high walls, an amazing range of plants from around the world can flourish in its special micro-climate. Inside, you’ll find Tom Stuart-Smith’s Paradise Garden, a calming and tranquil oasis with a lily pond and wooden seating areas.

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The nearby Kitchen Garden showcases techniques for growing yummy plants. This one was designed by the award-winning Harris Bugg Studio.

Another highlight is the Chinese Streamside Garden, which was created in collaboration with the Chinese community in Greater Manchester.

The idea behind this garden - which is filled with native Chinese plants like magnolias, rhododendrons, hydrangea and bamboo - is to celebrate how Chinese planting techniques and plant species have enriched British horticulture.

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There’s also the Peel Learning Garden, a hands-on outdoor learning space for young people and Community Grow, with its hive-like planting which aims to bring local people together to develop food-growing skills.

You'll find Moon Bridge Water, created to support biodiversity and pond life, and the ever-evolving Middle Wood, Victoria Meadow and the restored Ellesmere Lake. There really is plenty to see.

How can I visit RHS Garden Bridgewater?

You can now visit the garden but must pre-book a slot via the RHS website.

Alternatively, you can have everything taken care of by visiting during Good Housekeeping's special four-day tour, where you’ll be joined by landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith, the man behind the project’s grand vision, to top it off.

Photo credit: Mark Waugh
Photo credit: Mark Waugh

Tom will take you on a tour of the gardens, join you for afternoon tea and give a talk. Plus, there’ll be time to ask him all of your gardening questions.

MEET TOM AT RHS BRIDGEWATER

The holiday will also take in some of the other beautiful gardens in the north west, including Trentham Estate, with gardens also designed by Tom, Dunham Massey, Tatton Park, Ness Botanic Gardens in the Wirral and Arley Hall in the heart of Cheshire.

How do I get to RHS Garden Bridgewater?

The garden is 30 minutes from Salford's city centre and you can park for free on site. In line with the garden’s vision for sustainability, there are electric car charging stations available.

If you live nearby, you could take a bus, cycle, or even walk to the gardens - the Roe Green, Ellenbrook and Tyldesley Looplines are all nearby, as well as Bridgewater Way and the lovely Bridgewater Canal.

The closest train stations are Walkden, Moorside, Patricroft and Swinton (each around five miles from the gardens). You’ll need to book a local taxi to take you there.

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To avoid the fuss, why not travel by coach with a group of like-minded garden-loving Good Housekeeping readers on a four-day break?

The coach will also take you to nearby gems like Ness Botanic Garden, with its climbing plants and lilies, and Dunham Massey, with its Rose and Winter gardens and deer park.

Can you buy food and drink at RHS Garden Bridgewater?

Given there’s such a variety of gardens to admire, you’re bound to work up an appetite and fancy a coffee break during your visit.

Do not fear. Bridgewater Café and Garden Cottage Café are open from 18th May, so you can treat yourself to a hot drink or something tantalising from the seasonal menu.

Bridgewater Café overlooks the tranquil Victoria Meadow (indoor and outdoor seating is available) and Garden Cottage Café is located right inside the garden, so you can enjoy freshly baked treats and light bites while admiring the gardens.

What is the RHS?

The Royal Horticultural Society is considered the world’s premier gardening charity and has been running since 1804. Their goal is to enrich people’s lives through plants, and to make the UK a greener and ever more beautiful place.

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On the opening of its latest project, Sue Biggs, General Director of the RHS, said: "RHS Garden Bridgewater is the result of years of hard work by a dream team of designers, gardeners, contractors and many, many others and we are all enormously proud of what we have created.

"We are thrilled to finally be able to celebrate this monumental achievement."

Join Good Housekeeping readers at RHS Garden Bridgewater and take an exclusive tour of the site with its head designer Tom Stuart-Smith this July.

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