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RHS Garden Bridgewater by Alison Moore

RHS Bridgewater is right on my doorstep and I was thrilled when I first heard about the project a few years ago. I’ve been on a few ‘behind the scenes’ tours since 2019, but none of them compare to seeing the finished design and its incredible planting.

Bridgewater is very much a garden for the North of England with the walled kitchen garden, designed by The Harris Bugg Studio, particularly inspired by Salford and Manchester’s industrial past. There’s a fascinating insight on their Instagram page (@harrisbuggstudio) which explains how old maps of the Bridgewater canal inspired the layout of the key navigation paths through this part of the garden. The unique plant supports were also inspired by the tall chimney which can still be seen on site.

When I arrived at Bridgewater on the second day of opening, I made a beeline for the Sitting Spiritually swing seats,  just so that I could take some photos whilst the garden was still quiet; but more on those later!

As my visit was in the middle of May, I feel I should start with the tulips, which were still in bloom thanks to the cool wet spring. They were looking rather spectacular and this is just a small part of the display within the kitchen garden. You can see the distinctive gardener’s cottage at the far end which is one of the few surviving buildings from the time of the original country estate at Worsley.

There was a fantastic range of tulips and I particularly liked this parrot tulip 'Green Wave', which will definitely be on my planting list for autumn.

Another part of the walled garden that I particularly wanted to see was the Paradise Garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith. I spent ages in there, dodging the showers, enjoying the blues and greens of spring, and looking at the emerging summer planting. It's going to be even more spectacular in the coming months.

The Paradise Garden had intrigued me since the few glimpses on the early 'Behind the Scenes' tours, and it's incredible to think how far this garden has come in such a relatively short space of time. Back in spring 2019 only the bare bones were in place, and yes that tree is still there!

Fast forward to January 2020, when Covid-19 still seemed so far away, and some interesting pleached trees had arrived.

And here they are on the week the garden opened. A perfect framework of Parrotia Persica with a view down the rill to the interconnected water features.

In all areas of the Paradise Garden there is ample seating for visitors of all walking abilities and it's so good that this garden is readily accessible to all.

But talking of seats, I need to show you that along with all the other RHS gardens, Bridgewater has its very own Sitting Spiritually Swing Seats. A place to sit and watch the world go by.

With a view through the trees to the Welcome Building.

Another part of the garden that I particularly wanted to see was the Chinese Streamside Garden.

A pathway meanders through the area, with bridges crossing the stream that connects the new lake to the original pond. The vibrant pink of the candelabra primulas contrasts perfectly with the lush green of the rest of the landscape.

And there’s one of those swing seats again!

On arrival at the end of the path, planting is still in progress but there are already some beautiful acers settling in.

Back in January 2020, I'm pretty sure this area was inhabited by these beauties who played a key role in the clearing of the site.

And Ellesmere Lake was still devoid of water.

Now the old lake has been restored to its former glory and a valuable habitat for wildlife has been created. This is not quite the same shot but you can see the first of the terraces at the far side which would have led up to the original Worsley New Hall.

And to end my visit, a wander back through the Welcome Garden, to the cafe with a view of the new lake and some welcome refreshments.

There's so much to see and enjoy at RHS Bridgewater, and I for one will be a regular visitor.

With many thanks to Alison Moore, who also took all the stunning photos

Renaissance Garden Design

0161 973 1224 or 07412 288929


Twitter: @renaissancegd

Instagram: @alisonmoore

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Posted by Siobhan on June 2nd 2021

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