Whether inspiring the next generation of gardeners, helping local groups to enjoy the health benefits of gardening, creating great days out for hundreds of thousands of visitors or even being the setting for marriage proposals - RHS Garden Bridgewater has had a truly memorable first year.

As the garden reaches its first anniversary on Wednesday 18 May, visitor numbers stand at almost half a million and more than 18,000 Salford residents have visited the garden as part of the Free Salford Tuesdays scheme, which has been extended to May 2023.

To celebrate reaching this great milestone, the 500,000th visitor to the garden will receive an RHS Life Membership, so they can enjoy days out at the garden for many years to come.

Head of RHS Garden Bridgewater Richard Green said “A big thank you to all our partners, supporters, volunteers, team and visitors who have helped the garden exceed all expectations in its first year. It’s been great to see that as well as being a place of beauty, the garden is delivering tangible benefits to the region and supporting the local community via our education and community outreach programmes, social prescribing and free wellbeing activities.”

City Mayor Paul Dennett commented: “My congratulations to RHS Garden Bridgewater for what has been a spectacularly successful first year with record visitor numbers and thousands of Salford residents benefiting from free access and volunteering opportunities.

“We knew bringing the garden to Salford would have huge benefits for our local economy through visitor spend and job creation. We’ve already seen 162 jobs created and another 30 in the pipeline with more to come. Just under half of the staff live in Salford and 56 per cent of them live within five miles so this truly is benefitting local people.

“I’m also pleased to see five apprentices have been able to start their journey into an exciting career and three people have been given special horticultural placements to develop their skills. We very much wanted to – pardon the pun – grow the next generation of talented plant specialists and they are learning from some of the best in the business right here in Salford. 

“I wish them and RHS Garden Bridgewater every success for the coming years.”

Steven Underwood, Chief Executive of The Peel Group, added: “The Peel Group are incredibly proud to be a Founding Partner of RHS Garden Bridgewater, and we are absolutely thrilled to hear how successful the RHS’ fifth and largest horticultural garden has been in its first year, attracting visitors from the local community, the region and beyond. 

 It is testament to the dedication, hard work and enthusiasm of the RHS Garden Bridgewater team, to learn that over 7,000 young people from across 155 schools in Greater Manchester have visited the garden.

By working in partnership with the RHS Garden Bridgewater team, we have had the opportunity to create the Peel Learning Garden, which is a space dedicated to life-long learning and teaching all-ages about the benefits of wildlife and how we can work together to look after nature.

Following an incredible first year of success, we send our warmest congratulations to the team at the RHS Garden Bridgewater. We look forward to continuing our partnership with RHS Garden Bridgewater and Salford City Council to welcome many more schools, young people and communities to enjoy, explore and feel inspired by this magnificent garden located in the heart of Salford”.

There’s a lot to look forward in year two, including celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee (Thu 2 – Sun 5 Jun), family fun in the Great Garden Adventure (Sat 23 Jul – Sun 4 Sep) and the first ever Festival of Flavours, celebrating food from around the world (Fri 7 – Sun 9 Oct). And, as the charity gears up to open the 2022 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, showgoers will get a first glimpse of the New Blue Peter Garden designed by Juliet Sargeant, which will be relocated to a permanent home at RHS Bridgewater following the show.

RHS Garden Bridgewater is made possible by Salford City Council and The Peel Group. Salford City Council invested £19 million into the project which will bring substantial economic and tourism benefits to the city, its communities and the north west region. The Peel Group are custodians of the former Worsley New Hall estate where the garden has been created.