RHS Bridgewater

The Royal Horticultural Society is developing their fifth public national garden on the historic site of Worsley New Hall, known as RHS Bridgewater. RHS Bridgewater covers 154 acres on the edge of Salford within the Greater Manchester conurbation. The site was home to the Earls of Ellesmere from the early 1840s until the 1920s, and prior to this, it was owned by the Dukes of Bridgewater. Although Worsley New Hall was demolished in 1948, the site is still strongly characterised by both remnant Victorian landscape features and historic structures related to the Ellesmere’s ownership.

We have been appointed to design, detail and oversee the completion of the new walled Kitchen Garden, for opening in 2020. Our design has an entwined historical and horticultural vision, taking its cues from the rich heritage of the Worsley New Hall estate and its surroundings while looking to the future of fruit and vegetable growing in the region as well as the increasing interest in permaculture and ethnobotany. The design also celebrates key views to heritage architectural assets of the site.

The design concept and navigation of the garden is inspired by the network of waterways that powered Manchester’s industrial revolution. The design abstracts part of the route of the Bridgewater Canal, situated to the south of the site, as the bones of the navigation through the garden. Overlaid on the navigational design are the abstracted historic field boundaries of the surrounding countryside during the 19th century. These form the bed layouts and smaller pathways through the larger character planting areas. These allow visitors of all ages and mobility levels to become immersed in the planting of the garden, as well as allowing access for maintenance.

The horticultural vision for the garden is to inspire visitors to re-imagine how they experience productive growing. Evoking the spirit of Victorian walled kitchen gardens by demonstrating a wide range of plants for a purpose, the garden will also explore more unusual species and growing techniques and will showcase companion planting and wildlife-friendly plants throughout the garden to attract pollinators and natural predators.

“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