The Royal Horticultural Society are the experts behind some of Britain’s most impressive gardens – an exclusive collection soon to include Manchester’s RHS Garden Bridgewater. Set to open on 11 May 2021, it will be the first new RHS garden in 17 years, adding to the floral collections found in the four other RHS Gardens at Wisley, Hyde Hall, Harlow Carr and Rosemoor.
If you’re dreaming of a British city break, you can easily extend your adventure to include an unforgettable horticultural day out, featuring carefully curated rose gardens, historic glasshouses and woodland walks through lush arboretums…
Once home to Worsley New Hall, a grand house and set of formal gardens visited by Queen Victoria, the new 154-acre RHS Bridgewater is Europe’s largest gardening project. Breathing new life into the historic and once-extravagant estate, the jewel in the Bridgewater crown is set to be the revitalised 11-acre Weston Walled Garden. Due to be one of the most extensive in Britain, it will include a heritage orchard boasting 37 varieties of apple trees, as well as a Kitchen Garden inspired by the waterways used in Manchester’s Industrial Revolution. Designed by Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg, the Kitchen Garden will also incorporate the rich local history and heritage of the estate, while the Paradise Garden will be packed with a mix of striking Mediterranean and Asiatic plants, with a square Lily Pond at its centre. Several lakeside and woodland walks will also provide tranquil routes to explore all that the site has to offer.
Date for the diary: RHS Garden Bridgewater opens to the public, 11 May 2021
Closest city: RHS Garden Bridgewater is under ten miles from Manchester city centre.
Getting there: RHS Garden Bridgewater is approximately 20 minutes by car, and 50 minutes by bus from the heart of Manchester.
A 58-acre horticultural haven, RHS Garden Harlow Carr includes lavish Main Borders, a Sub-Tropicana Garden collection and a glorious scented garden, while a rich mix of native and ornamental woodland covers more than half the site.
You can imagine enjoying the scenic vistas at Queen Mother’s Lake and the nearby wildflower meadow on a future trip, or soaking up the sense of tranquillity in the Arboretum. This quiet corner of the garden even has a designated silent space for to take in the soothing sounds of nature, and is also home to a bamboo glade and bird hide.
Once reopened, you can head to Bettys Café Tea Rooms – a sister café to one of Britain’s best-known tea houses. Located in the heart of Harlow Carr, it’s the ideal spot for refuelling with some sweet treats and a hot cup of tea, while basking in the gentle beauty of the surroundings.
Date for the diary: RHS Garden Harlow Carr Flower Show, 25-27 June 2021
Closest city: RHS Garden Harlow Carr is just over 15 miles from Leeds, but is also accessible from York or the spa town of Harrogate, which is two miles away.
Getting there: Approximately a 40-minute drive or 80-minute train and bus journey from Leeds.
Acquired in 1903, RHS Garden Wisley is the organisation’s flagship garden and is home to one of the largest plant collections in the world. Highlights at the spectacular 240-acre space include the Glasshouse, built to commemorate the Society’s 200th anniversary and filled with zones containing many different tropical displays, and its double Mixed Borders, a vast 128-metre-long display of dazzling colours that transforms the garden between spring and autumn.
If you’re keen to absorb the tranquillity of an English garden, you can look forward to wandering through the conifer-based Pinetum with century-old trees towering overhead. Alternatively, you can plan to enjoy a picnic in the Riverside Garden, which is awash with weeping willows and bluebells and home to kingfishers, herons and swans.
2021 will also see the opening of the brand new and sustainably-built RHS Hilltop - Home of Gardening Science, the UK’s first dedicated horticultural science centre of excellence. The centre will shine a light on previously unseen work, experiments and botanical art, while looking to protect the future of plants. And that’s not all for RHS Garden Wisley, as 2022 will herald the restoration of the Laboratory, a historic Arts and Crafts landmark at the centre of the site.
Date for the diary: RHS Garden Wisley Flower Show, 7-12 September 2021
Closest city: RHS Garden Wisley is circa 25 miles from central London.
Getting there: Approximately one hour by car or 90 minutes via train and connecting bus from central London.
Just inland from the North Devon Coast, RHS Garden Rosemoor has something to appeal to every horticultural palette. Here you can plan to wander among majestic pastel cherry blossom, discover the fruit, flowers and herbs grown in the Potager and Cottage Garden, and grab some horticultural inspiration from three Model Gardens, each themed around different styles and connected by a central lawn.
Also on the must-see list are the calming Cool Garden, recently redesigned with an enchanting reflective water feature, and the contrasting vivid colours of the Hot Garden, an iconic formal space which blooms into a carpet of nature’s brightest hues.
Alongside the outstanding floral displays, you can look forward to the charms of the Stumpery – nature’s sculpture park! Inspired by the Victorian tradition, this pathway through a selection of upside-down tree stumps, arranged with shade-loving plants, is now a haven for ferns and other species.
Date for the diary: RHS Garden Rosemoor Flower Show, 13-15 August 2021
Closest city: RHS Garden Rosemoor is under 40 miles from the cathedral city of Exeter.
Getting there: Approximately a one-hour drive from Exeter.
Founded in 1955 and taken over by the RHS in 1993, RHS Garden Hyde Hall is a sanctuary full of fragrant roses, lush borders and local wildlife. If you’re dreaming of Britain’s horticultural highlights, you can imagine strolling through quaint courtyard gardens, beside colour-themed herbaceous borders or exploring the octagonal glasshouse, which lies in the centre of the picturesque Global Growth Vegetable Garden.
With a reputation for sublime rose beds, Hyde Hall’s Rose Garden and Rope Rose Walk is one of the attraction’s stand-out areas. The Rose Garden is arranged into three colour themes, bold oranges and yellows, delicate whites, creams and custard yellow, and vibrant pinks and reds, across six beds. Rope Rose Walk dates back to the 1960s and features wooden frames which are covered with numerous climbing roses and other species. If you’re a wildlife fan, you can plan to discover the Reservoir and Bird Hide, an ideal spot for watching the world – and over 90 types of bird – fly by!
Date for the diary: RHS Garden Hyde Hall Flower Show, 4-8 August 2021
Closest city: RHS Garden Hyde Hall is under ten miles from Chelmsford in Essex and circa 43 miles from London.
Getting there: Approximately 20 minutes by car or a 25-minute bus service from Chelmsford, which stops just over a mile from the garden. From London it is approximately 90 minutes by car, or two hours by rail and bus.