After the coronavirus pandemic delayed opening plans by almost a year, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), the world’s leading gardening charity, has today announced when RHS Garden Bridgewater will open.
The 154-acre garden in Salford is the biggest hands-on horticultural project undertaken in Europe since planning permission was granted in 2017.
Around 7.8 million people living within an hour’s journey time of the garden will be able to access world-class horticultural inspiration and expertise at the first ever RHS Garden to be located in an urban area.
Featuring cutting-edge design by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners alongside numerous dedicated community spaces, RHS Garden Bridgewater will be a beacon of gardening inspiration, education and engagement in the heart of the North West when it opens in May.
More than a quarter of a million plants have gone into the ground ahead of the opening, representing a huge boost for biodiversity in the area.
From 18th May, visitors will 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 a cornucopia of productive growing techniques and both familiar and more unusual edibles.
The Community Wellbeing 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 garden plants will be assessed for their performance in the northern climate.
Elsewhere, visitors can explore the beginnings of the Chinese Streamside Garden, which will be the first authentic Chinese garden in the UK when complete, and the 4-acre Woodland Play area designed to encourage children of all ages to engage with nature.
“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,” said Head of RHS Garden Bridgewater Richard Green.
“This collaborative approach is what has made RHS Bridgewater such a unique and special project, and we can’t wait to open the gates and share it with everyone.”
The RHS is investing £35m in the creation of the garden, which the charity forecasts will generate around £13.2m per year to the local economy by 2030, and has created over 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 five miles of the garden.
All Salford residents will be able to visit RHS Garden Bridgewater free on Tuesdays from 25th May for the first year thanks to an arrangement agreed between the RHS and Salford City Council.
“It’s fantastic that RHS Garden Bridgewater will soon be open to everyone, creating another world class attraction in Salford and contributing towards tourism and economic growth in Greater Manchester,” said Tom Stannard, Salford City Council’s Chief Executive.
“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.
“Salford City Council played a pivotal role in making the garden a reality.
“For every single pound we invest in this we will see several pounds come back into our city.
“In the last 20 years, Salford has transformed its economy and nurtured major investment projects which have created thousands of new jobs, businesses and homes and put the city on the national and international map.
“In much the same way as its namesake the Bridgewater Canal put Salford on the map in 1761, we expect RHS Garden Bridgewater to do the same in the modern day.”
RHS Garden Bridgewater will open its gates on Tuesday 18th May 2021, with tickets for the highly anticipated opening weeks going on sale to the public on 19th April 2021 on the RHS website. All Salford residents will be able to visit RHS Garden Bridgewater free on Tuesdays thanks to an arrangement agreed between the RHS and Salford City Council. Pre-booking is required and tickets will be available to book from Tue 20th April. Proof of address will be required on arrival.