New Wellbeing Garden will provide a horticultural haven

Monday 28 January 2019

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 over 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 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, which is 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.


Notes to editors

For more information and images, please contact Hannah Dolby on 020 7821 3042 or

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society, the world’s leading gardening charity, was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place. This aspiration underpins all that we do, from inspirational gardens and shows, through our scientific research, to our education and community programmes such as Campaign for School Gardening and Britain in Bloom. We produce key publications, hold a world-class collection of horticultural books and botanical art, and sell the very best plants and gardening gifts.

The RHS is fundraising £40m to transform our gardens, outreach and education facilities, which includes redeveloping our flagship RHS Garden Wisley and opening a new garden, RHS Garden Bridgewater, in 2020. We are solely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. For more information visit

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

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