New Wellbeing Garden will provide a horticultural haven

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the design of a garden dedicated to the practice of therapeutic horticulture at RHS Garden Bridgewater.  The Wellbeing Garden, designed in-house by Horticultural Projects Manager Ben Brace CMLI, is the latest to be revealed as progress on the creation of the RHS’s fifth garden continues apace.


The Wellbeing Garden was originally conceived by renowned landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith in his masterplan for Bridgewater. It will sit within the historic 11-acre Walled Garden, which is being brought back to life with the support of The Garfield Weston Foundation. The new design is the result of over six months’ consultation with more than 20 organisations, including health and social care providers and charities working with people who have mental and physical health conditions.


Ben Brace said: “We want this garden to be a place to nurture both mental and physical health, so getting input from those who will use it was vital.  Our initial thoughts were that it may be difficult to cater for a wide range of conditions in a single garden, but the consultation showed us that people’s needs are essentially similar. We will create a sanctuary that offers space to grow, space to reflect and space to meet others and get moving.”


The garden is also set to be the focus of an innovative social prescribing programme. The RHS, with Swinton Enhanced Care Team and University of Salford, have received Innovation Funding from Salford Primary Care Together to give around 75 individuals the chance to improve their health by gardening at Bridgewater, including helping to create the Wellbeing Garden.  Through the project, which will run from April 2019, staff and partners will be trained in horticultural therapy and University of Salford will evaluate the difference it makes to people’s wellbeing. A Therapeutic Gardener is currently being appointed to take this and other projects forward.


The Wellbeing Garden will feature three distinct spaces:


  • Reflective spaces, planted with woodland glade plants such as birch, hazel, evergreen ferns, ivy and spring bulbs, surrounded by beech hedges for seclusion.
  • Growing spaces, including raised planters in which users will be encouraged to take over to grow and care for plants of their choosing
  • Meeting and moving spaces, including shrubs and herbaceous borders, with plants that evoke memory and past experience such as Dahlias, thornless roses and asters.


A series of circular paths will invite exploration, encourage exercise and provide positive distractions. The provision of more solitary spaces will allow for contemplation by visitors who prefer greater seclusion. It will also be a space for activities such as music, crafts, nature watching, yoga and meditation.


The Wellbeing Garden will be created within the Walled Garden, a key part of the 154-acre RHS Garden Bridgewater. It will sit alongside a Kitchen Garden designed by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg; a Paradise Garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith; a Learning Garden designed by students from Manchester Metropolitan University and community teaching allotments.


The RHS is currently fundraising to create RHS Garden Bridgewater, which will open in 2020, and needs to raise £5.5m to create this new resource for the North West. Up to 7,000 local schoolchildren will visit Bridgewater each year for a variety of free activities and workshops.

Read more about the RHS here


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