The Royal Horticultural Society has unveiled plans for its first new garden in 17 years – a 62-hectare (154-acre) site in the heart of Salford, Greater Manchester.
RHS Garden Bridgewater, which is being developed in the derelict gardens of the demolished stately home Worsley New Hall, has been described as the biggest gardening project in Europe.
Local volunteers and RHS staff have already started cultivating the muddy site, working around the estate’s surviving outbuildings and walls. When it opens in 2020 it will be the society’s fifth garden, alongside Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire, Hyde Hall in Essex, Rosemoor in Devon and Wisley in Surrey.
Based on a design by leading landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith, the renovation will cost £31m, £5m of which is being provided by Salford council. The RHS hopes it will attract 1 million visitors a year once completed.
The first phase of the plans includes the restoration of the four-hectare (11-acre) walled kitchen garden, one of the largest in the UK, which will sit alongside an education garden, a therapeutic garden, two lakes and multiple community spaces.
The RHS announced on Wednesday that, following a nationwide competition, the kitchen garden would be designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg.
Presenting the pair’s designs to the media on Wednesday, Harris said: “Our design references the history of the [nearby Bridgewater canal] and the estate and the wider area’s role in the heart of the industrial revolution and the impact that had on the area around Salford and Greater Manchester.”
The plan for the garden involves “pushing the boundaries” of what can be grown in the north-west, she said, by experimenting with more exotic plants. “We want to inspire visitors to think of their spaces in different ways, whatever kind of space they have at home, whether it’s a balcony or a larger garden,” said Harris.
Marcus Chilton-Jones, curator of RHS Garden Bridgewater, said the organisation had been looking to develop a new garden somewhere in the Midlands or the north-west, and had been scouring the M6 corridor for a suitable site. “The reason they ended up here is it’s the best site,” he said. “It’s got lots of different soils, lots of history, lots of people nearby, infrastructure – this ticks all of the boxes.”
While the immediate surrounding area of Worsley is affluent, there are areas a few miles away such as Eccles that have patches of deprivation. “It’s both the biggest challenge of the site and the biggest opportunity,” Chilton-Jones said of the demographics in the surrounding area. “Because we can engage a different type of person in a different community in gardening, so we can make more of a difference to people’s lives.”
He said community outreach was one of the key objectives of RHS Bridgewater, which will aim to have programmes that work with young offenders and volunteer opportunities that prioritise people living nearby.
The “Elizabethan gothic”-style Worsley New Hall was built by the Egerton family, who held the title of Duke of Bridgewater, in 1846. The family were responsible for the opening of what is considered the first English canal, the Bridgewater canal from Worsley to Manchester, in 1761.
The hall’s gardens were as extensive and grand as the house itself, with terrace gardens constructed by landscape architect and artist William Andrews Nesfield. Despite hosting Queen Victoria and Edward VIII, the building lasted only just over 100 years. It fell into disrepair and was demolished by a scrap merchant in 1949.
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/apr/11/royal-horticultural-society-unveils-plans-for-154-acre-garden-in-salford