The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has been awarded two major grants to support the development of RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford.

A grant of £5 million has been given by The Garfield Weston Foundation to support the development of the historic walled garden, and £0.5 million has been awarded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, to develop the garden’s lakes.

The magnificent eleven-acre walled garden, one of the most impressive original features of the historic grounds at Worsley New Hall, Salford, will be the piece de rèsistance of RHS Garden Bridgewater. It is also planned that it will be completed in time for the opening of the garden in 2020.

One of the largest in the country, it was constructed in the early 1840s and comprised an impressive sequence of kitchen gardens to service the long gone house. As little of the original planting remains, its restoration, thanks to Garfield Weston, is one of the most ambitious horticultural projects of the 21st century.

The grant from Arcadia will fund the restoration of the historic lake, construction of a new lake, and other work to improve the surrounding biodiversity of RHS Garden Bridgewater.

Manchester-based award-winning architects Hodder+Partners has worked with landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith to create the concepts for the new Welcome Building – which will provide a visitor gateway to RHS Bridgewater Garden – and the sensitive restoration of the existing buildings.

The project has been led by Chairman and Stephen Hodder MBE.

RHS Director General, Sue Biggs, says: “We are delighted by these grants as they demonstrate the level of confidence and faith that people have in our plans to bring this remarkable garden back to life. The walled garden and our beautiful lakes are at the very heart of our ambitious plans to make RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford one of the best in the country.’

City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “This is fantastic news and will help bring two major elements of the historic grounds back to life. Salford City Council is delighted to be working with the RHS and Peel Land and Property on RHS Garden Bridgewater which will bring jobs, business opportunities and visitors to Salford.”

Philippa Charles, Director of The Garfield Weston Foundation, says: ‘Our Trustees were delighted to support RHS Garden Bridgewater and anticipate it will provide many opportunities in the North West from jobs and volunteering to education and training. We hope the beautiful walled garden will be a jewel in the centre of the project – it is a quintessential secret garden that will be accessible to all visitors.’

Anthea Case, Principal Advisor, Arcadia, says: “RHS Garden Bridgewater will prove an invaluable asset for both local wildlife and people. We are delighted to be a playing a role in the garden’s development and helping to secure its biodiversity.”

Clearance of many brambles and other overgrown shrubs to uncover what is left of the walled garden’s productive history has already begun, and it will be the first area to be planted.
The outer walled garden will include a mix of ornamental and productive gardening, community allotments and a therapeutic garden, while the southern walled garden will concentrate on vegetable and fruit production. At the very centre will be the northern walled garden; designed by masterplanner Tom Stuart-Smith; a flower garden inspired by the earliest known forms of garden, complete with a lily pond.

In the years ahead, a new Learning Centre will be added in the garden, as will a major glasshouse on the site of the old house ruins, terraces will be restored and new areas of horticulture added.

The initial cost of creating the garden is £31.2 million. The RHS has committed £14.2 million to the project and Salford City Council have already committed to fund £5 million towards onsite infrastructure costs. Fundraising for RHS Garden Bridgewater continues, with a target of £6.5 million still to raise to achieve the opening of the RHS vision in Greater Manchester; to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.

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