Billed as the biggest garden project in Europe, RHS Garden Bridgewater is due to open this summer thanks to the help of green fingered volunteers.
The giant new garden, spread across 154 acres on the site of Worsley New Hall, is the RHS’s first new garden in 17 years and is expected to attract a million annual visitors.
The Guardian have listed Salford and RHS Garden Bridgewater as an ethical destination in their alternative hotlist of where to go on holiday in 2020, because the project “celebrates inspiring conservation” and it’s a community project that is “making a difference to people and the planet.”
Other places with ‘inspiring conservation’ included Slovenia, Rotterdam, Menorca, Copenhagen, Vienna, Finland, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Montana, and Vancouver.
Richard Green, the head of Bridgewater, told The Guardian: “There is no other garden like this in the north-west of England, not on this scale. It is a mix of stunning horticulture and a place for people.”
Community really is at the heart of this garden project. More than 700 volunteer gardeners have been busy Manchester bees, and GPs are already prescribing gardening activities to people who are struggling with mental health, mobility problems and other conditions.
Referred patients can plant hanging baskets, make bug hotels, go on woodland walks or join tai chi and yoga sessions in the new wellbeing garden.
Young people have also been helping in the garden under the National Citizen Service. Soon there will be classrooms and a learning garden – about 7,000 local schoolchildren will be invited every year – and apprenticeship schemes.
Adults can garden in community allotments in the walled garden, and four of the plots will be dedicated to growing produce for a local food bank. There are also demonstration areas to inspire visitors to transform their own gardens.
“This garden is a dream come true not just for the UK but especially for the North West,” said BBC Gardener’s World star Carol Klein.
The new garden is expected to generate just shy of £14m a year for the local economy in the next decade and introduce over 300 new jobs in the area.
“It’s a vital project for the advancement of horticulture, for local employment and to engage local communities in gardening. So good for the body, soul and spirit. That’s why it’s imperative to do whatever we can to help the RHS bring it to life.”
Key features include a kitchen garden, providing fruit and vegetables for the cafe; a Chinese garden created with Greater Manchester’s Chinese community; and a calming “paradise garden” with a huge pond within a walled garden.
A wild woodland play area with hobbit holes, a bug garden and a low ropes course is designed to help children of all ages get outside, connect with nature and socialise away from screens.
RHS Garden Bridgewater opens in summer 2020. There’s free entry for RHS members, and for Salford residents every Tuesday for the first year. Everyone else can have two free visits a year.
Want a sneak preview? You can book a behind the scenes tour online now, but don’t delay, there are limited places on each tour and tours will only run till March 2020.
Pictures credit RHS Garden Bridgewater