The country’s fifth Royal Horticultural Society garden, spanning 154 acres of Peel Group-owned land in Worsley, has opened to the public for the first time, 10 months later than scheduled.
The £35m RHS Garden Bridgewater – the first new RHS garden in 17 years – had been due to open last July but pandemic-related issues forced the project team to revise the construction timescale.
“We feel that [its] opening could not be more timely after the terrible time everyone has endured over the last year,” said Sue Biggs, RHS director general.
“We have been looking forward to this day for more than six years, during which time so many people have come together and enabled us to create a stunning new garden of which we hope the people of Salford, Greater Manchester, the North West and beyond are proud.”
The long-awaited opening was welcomed by Salford Council chief executive Tom Stannard and the city’s mayor, Paul Dennett, who said: “The opening celebrates the culmination of many years of discussions and planning that has transformed this historic 154-acre site around Worsley New Hall into this incredible vibrant new garden.”
Salford City Council invested £19m in the project.
The opening ribbon was cut by TV presenter and RHS Ambassador for RHS Bridgewater Carol Klein.
“This garden represents not only the spirit of the RHS, but that of the North West, pioneering and looking to the future,” Klein said.
“It also reflects the spirit of the area and its two cities, and shows what can be achieved when communities work together.”
RHS predicts that the garden will generate around £13.2m a year by 2030. Design and engineering firm Arcadis managed the project on behalf of the RHS, while Bam Construction has been delivering the garden’s welcome building.
RHS Bridgewater is cited as the biggest horticultural project undertaken in Europe since planning permission was granted in 2017, and 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.
The 11-acre Weston Walled Garden has been restored and several additional gardens, including the Chinese Streamside Garden, are planned.
The Welcome Building, designed by Hodder + Partners, features an events space, learning space, offices, café and shop. RoC Consulting is the civil engineer for the drainage and road works at RHS Bridgewater, as well as carrying out structural engineering work for the Welcome Building.
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.
Biggs added: “This is just the beginning as our garden will give people pleasure for generations to come, but right now I could not be more proud of this incredible group of people, and the monumental achievement of bringing to life our shared vision to create what we believe will become one of the UK’s greatest gardens, right in the heart of Greater Manchester.”