Manchester's industrial revolution inspires medal-winning team, Harris Bugg Studio, to create a design for the gardeners of tomorrow
Chelsea Flower Show Gold medallists Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg have been chosen as the designers for a new Kitchen Garden at RHS Garden Bridgewater. Located in the historic Walled Garden, the Kitchen Garden is a key element of the masterplan for the fifth RHS Garden devised by renowned landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith.
Submitted as part of a nationwide competition, the design by Harris Bugg Studio takes its cues from the rich heritage of the Worsley New Hall estate and its surroundings, while looking to the future of fruit and vegetable growing in the region. The design concept and navigation of the garden is inspired by the network of waterways that powered Manchester's industrial revolution, and the layout of the planting beds is influenced by the historic field network of the surrounding countryside during the 19th century. The horticulture will combine beautiful planting with practical ideas to inspire visitors to grow their own at home.
Capturing area's industrial heritage
RHS Garden Bridgewater Curator Marcus Chilton-Jones says: “Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg are pioneering design talents of their generation, and I could not be more delighted that their innovative plan for the Kitchen Garden will be made real. Their ideas have truly captured the spirit of RHS Garden Bridgewater in reflecting the wonderful history and unique identity of this area whilst creating an important, forward-looking source of knowledge and inspiration for gardeners across the North West.”
The 11-acre Walled Garden is one of the largest of its kind in the UK and will be a jewel in the crown of RHS Garden Bridgewater when it opens to the public in 2021. It will comprise a number of exciting spaces alongside the Kitchen Garden, including a wellbeing garden, community teaching allotments and the Paradise Garden designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.
Three gardens in one
Harris and Bugg will help staff at RHS Garden Bridgewater oversee every detail of the transformation as their designs go from paper to reality over the next two years. Within the new garden three distinct yet interdependent spaces will be created, each with an individual character and learning experience: the Permaculture Garden; the Classic Fruit and Vegetable Garden; and the Ornamental Productive Garden. These spaces will be unified by the restored Victorian walls against which a wide-ranging collection of fruit trees and climbing plants will be trained in a variety of forms, celebrating the craft of the master pruner.
The designers are keen to ensure that the plant selections reflect the underlying theme of Tom Stuart Smith’s masterplan in pushing the boundaries of what can be grown in the region and trialling new horticultural ideas. Every plant in each area of the garden will serve an important function, from providing food to attracting pollinators, which will see instantly-recognisable fruit and vegetables grown side by side with more unusual varieties, and traditional growing techniques benefitting from the application of modern best practice.
“RHS Garden Bridgewater is an incredible legacy for not just the RHS, but the whole of the North West region and we feel enormously honoured to be part of this project,” says Hugo Bugg. “We’re enjoying the development of the construction and horticultural detailing process but, like any garden, the joy of this space is that it will evolve over time.”
“Stories and layers are important in this garden, and it is our hope that people will discover something meaningful, relevant and thought-provoking here, whether it is gardening and horticulture, or the rich historical background of the surrounding area,” added Charlotte Harris. “Our aim is that this garden will be inspiring and memorable on many different levels, with plenty of take-home ideas. Food is the umbilicus that connects us all to growing, so we’d like visitors to be able to try out the ideas they find in the Walled Garden, whatever the size of their own outside space - whether that is an apartment balcony in Manchester city centre, or a larger, more traditional garden in Wilmslow."