This is part 2 in my look at RHS Garden Bridgewater, the newly opened gardens in Salford, on what once was the grounds of Worsley New Hall.
In part 1, I covered the route cycling from Stretford along the Bridgewater Canal path, making use of the newly opened walking and cycling Bee Network scheme, connecting the canal path to the gardens. While I was starting in Stretford, this could easily be extended to include areas accessible by the Bridgewater Canal and beyond. Part 2 is more of a mini review of our first time visiting RHS Garden Bridgewater, our initial impressions and a few photos.
Something that stood out when RHS Garden Bridgewater first opened was news of a green travel discount for people arriving by bus, cycle, on foot. This is quite a substantial reduction. At time of writing, the standard adult price with Gift Aid is reduced from £12.10 to £7.70, for those arriving by alternative means.
This is a great way of encouraging people not to drive, though it’s disappointing there’s no discount on the family ticket. Do they not want to encourage families to use green travel too?
The green travel discount was largely irrelevant for us, as we decided sign up for a year’s membership, thinking we’ll visit enough times over the next year to make it worthwhile. This decision was helped massively by the fact we’re able to cycle there relatively easily and safely. If we weren’t able to do that, I doubt we’d have signed up to membership.
Currently, it’s necessary to book a time shot before arriving, as is the case for many attractions, post-lockdown. Hopefully, this will restriction will be lifted at some point, as it would be nice to just turn up when we choose. We didn’t have too much trouble getting a timeslot anyway, as we booked one for Saturday afternoon, on Friday evening.
Being of a certain age, we’ve developed a bit of an interest in gardening over the years. We’ve also had some success growing fruit and veg, have had an allotment in the past and now have raised beds in the garden. So we were intrigued to see what RHS Garden Bridgewater had to offer.
While formal ornamental gardens were an obvious choice for the of the site, it’s great to see how much space has been given over to growing fruit and veg in the kitchen garden. I lost count on the number of varieties of corn growing there and was impressed with Mediterranean House and the selection of tomatoes and Mediterranean herbs and vegetables on show.
It was surprising just how well established a lot of the planting is, given how recently the garden have opened. While it’s clearly work in progress in some areas, lots of the planting is lush and looking fantastic.
Outside of the walled garden, the grounds of the RHS Garden Bridgewater spread out to include a number of distinct areas, including woods, woodland play area and a Chinese garden. There’s also a Ellesmere Lake, that dates back to the original formal gardens.
We didn’t have a lot of time to explore on our first visit, but we managed to head over to the woodland play area and to Ellesmere Lake and the Chinese Streamside Garden, which has been developed with the Greater Manchester Chinese community. These are a lot less formal than the walled garden and look fantastic.
The welcome building is an impressive wooden structure that contains the entrance area, shop, plant centre and café. The shop felt a bit like a posh version of what you typically get at garden centres nowadays. We had a quick look round there, but didn’t have time to go in the plant centre on our first visit.
We arranged to have lunch at the café when we arrived, hoping to eat while taking in views of Moon Bridge Water. We weren’t prepared for how long it would take to get served, it felt more like we were queuing for a popular theme park ride! There wasn’t even that even many people in the queue, it’s just the service was glacial.
From our own experience, this seems to be typical of these kinds of attractions. It’s often same with English Heritage and National Trust properties. I often wonder how much more money they’d take if they just had adequate levels of staff. At busy times, if you’re just after a drink and a snack, you are probably better off going to the Garden Cottage Café or the café near the woodland play area.
We really enjoyed our first visit to RHS Garden Bridgewater and can’t wait to return. We were pleasantly surprised by the scale of the work undertaken in the garden and just how well established it is already. I can see us returning again and again, exploring the garden further as it changes throughout the seasons.