By allowing designers to playfully rewrite the rules, the Royal Horticultural Society has created a radical, sustainable garden that is almost guaranteed success
“We haven’t set out to make a Chelsea garden, we’ve set out to make a real one,” says Sylvia Travers, a team leader at RHS Bridgewater. Indeed, the much-heralded 154-acre garden in Salford, Greater Manchester, which opened in May, nearly a year later than planned due to Covid, does feel particularly authentic. There are weeds – some intentional, such as nettles growing in the forest garden, and some still to be pulled out. There are irregular beds; wild edibles; a no-dig kitchen garden; wildlife habitats; communal beds; a wellbeing garden; and even pizza ovens. It is also embedded within its community.
But, this being the Royal Horticultural Society, one of the oldest horticultural societies in the world, you’d expect glamour and scale, too. Masterplanned by landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith, it features the largest working, walled garden in Europe, the Weston walled garden – the only remaining part of Worsley New Hall.