Kitchen Garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, Salford

Location: Salford, Manchester

Client: Royal Horticultural Society

Status: Completed

Project: Charity, Public Gardens

"Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg are pioneering design talents of their generation, and I could not be more delighted that their innovative plan for the Kitchen Garden will be made real".

Marcus Chilton-Jones, Curator, RHS Garden Bridgewater

"One of the best examples of forest gardening I’ve seen. I came away inspired to try it at home".

Jack Wallington in the Daily Telegraph

The 154-acre Salford site is the Royal Horticultural Society’s fifth public garden and opened to great acclaim in summer 2021.

Designed to evoke the experimental spirit of Victorian walled kitchen gardens, the walled Kitchen Garden designed by Harris Bugg Studio is located at the heart of Bridgewater. Selected following a national competition, it takes the visitor on both a historical and horticultural journey, with a design influenced by the rich heritage of its surroundings.

The main pathways of the garden are inspired by the route of the Bridgewater Canal – the construction of which marked the beginning of the golden age of canals. The canal bounds RHS Garden Bridgewater and was the transportation lifeblood of the Industrial Revolution in Greater Manchester.

The smaller pathways and layout of the beds follow the pattern of local field boundaries of the same time, found in historic Ordnance Survey maps of the 1890s. These smaller pathways invite visitors to get close to the planting, with the smaller bed sizes of a scale that can be imagined at home – inspiring productive growing whatever the size, aspect or setting.

The horticultural intention is for the Kitchen Garden to be an experimental productive space that evolves and develops over time. The garden has four distinct zones: an edible forest garden, a formal kitchen garden, and a herbal garden. The fourth zone weaves around the stunning and historic surrounding walls, and showcases the very best of horticultural creativity and skill in fruit training.

Appearing throughout the garden are several designed features which honour the heritage of the site. Long reflective water tanks bring light and animation, attract beneficial wildlife and enable the growing of water edibles. They are constructed with a brick detail to echo the surrounding Victorian walls, and with stone quoin corners that are inspired by the historic doorways between the gardens. Seven four metre-high climber towers provide opportunities for vertical growing, with design abstracted from the impressive “lighthouse” chimney stack that is one of the original architectural heritage assets of the site.

RHS Bridgewater has won first prize in the European Garden Awards, in the Design or Concept of a Contemporary Park or Garden category and was a runner-up for the prestigious Dame Sylvia Crowe Award at the 2022 Landscape Institute Awards, which recognises landscape excellence around the world.