The country’s fifth Royal Horticultural Society garden, spanning 154 acres in Salford, is due to open on 18 May following construction delays due to Covid-19.
Tickets are to go on sale from 19 April, the RHS announced today. The £35m garden had been due to open on 30 July 2020 but pandemic-related issues forced the project team to revise the construction timescale last year.
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Design and engineering firm Arcadis is managing the project on behalf of the RHS, while Bam Construction has been delivering the garden’s welcome building. It is cited as the biggest horticultural project undertaken in Europe since planning permission was granted in 2017, and also marks the first new RHS garden in 17 years and the first ever in an urban location.
The site is the former Worsley New Hall estate close to the Bridgewater Canal in Salford, just off the M60 ring road towards Worsley, and the land is owned by the Peel Group.
The first phase of work has included the restoration of the 11-acre Weston Walled Garden and several further gardens are planned, as well as the Welcome Building, designed by Hodder + Partners, which will feature an events space, learning space, offices, café and shop.
Each section of the garden features designs by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal winners alongside several dedicated community spaces, intended to provide gardening inspiration, education and engagement to visitors from the North West and beyond.
More than a quarter of a million plants have been put in the ground, while the Weston Walled Garden itself is home to the Paradise Garden by designer Tom Stuart-Smith, showcasing exotic planting inspired by Asiatic and Mediterranean gardens.
The nearby Kitchen Garden has been designed by award-winning Harris Bugg Studio and features a display of productive growing techniques and a selection of edibles.
Visitors from 18 May will also be able to visit the beginnings of the Chinese Streamside Garden, intended as the first authentic Chinese garden in the UK, and the four-acre Woodland Play area designed to encourage children to engage with nature.
In addition, there are several community gardens, including a Community Wellbeing Garden, Community Grow area and Peel Learning Garden, supported by the landowner. The Orchard Gardens and the first dedicated RHS Trials ground outside the RHS’s flagship Wisley in Surrey, will enable garden plants to be assessed for their performance in a northern climate.
RHS director-general Sue Biggs 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.
“Together with our partners and donors, including Salford City Council and The Peel Group, we are thrilled to finally be able to celebrate this monumental achievement on 18 May.”
And Tom Stannard, chief executive of Salford City Council, added: “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.
“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.” The council invested a total of £19m in the project, which is expected to bring substantial economic benefits to the local area and wider region.
All Salford residents will be able to visit RHS Garden Bridgewater free on Tuesdays from 25 May, under an agreement between the RHS and Salford City Council.