TEP Volunteer at RHS Bridgewater

13 of TEP’s Landscape Architects and Ecologists visited RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford last week as one of TEP’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) volunteering days.  These volunteering days are a valued part of TEP’s culture and wider CSR programme.  They help enrich our staff and provide us with an opportunity to help local community groups and charities.

We were privileged to begin the day with a tour of the grounds by Garden Manager Tracy Snell and Team Leader James Hall, who explained the design proposals, and the challenges they have and will face getting the garden ready for the public. Challenges include: storing plants delivered to site from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show whilst planting beds are still being prepared, managing soil movement within the site, and contending with the weather!  Bridgewater is at the grounds of the former Worsley New Hall, and is currently one of the largest gardening projects in Europe, and the biggest project the RHS has tackled to date.  The project spans 154 acres of woodland and grassland, and includes a large historic walled garden.  The RHS’s plans for the site will miraculously transform it from an underused and unmanaged estate into an extensive series of formal and informal gardens.

Bridgewater has been designed with the local community at its heart. This can be seen through planned features, such as the well-being garden, play areas, and Chinese streamside garden, and the connections the RHS has already established with local community groups and gardening projects. The garden’s concept was designed by Landscape Architect Tom Stuart-Smith, who worked with Manchester-based architects Hodder and Partners.  TEP was involved early on to support the planning application by providing extensive ecological surveys and assessments, as well as a comprehensive Landscape Visual Impact Assessment, and TEP is continuing to provide ecological advice during the implementation phase.

Even though some of TEP’s staff had been previously involved in the project, returning to site as volunteers allowed the team to experience the site from another perspective and appreciate the scale and endeavour of what is being undertaken.  On our visit we were tasked with clearing rhododendron bushes from an area of woodland near the main lake, and removing rubble from the yew circle.  The team definitely enjoyed the fresh air and exercise. What we managed to achieve in a day, would have taken the staff team over a week; and helps free up their time to concentrate on larger and more complex tasks.  A highlight of the day was meeting and feeding the small herd of rare breed Berkshire pigs that the RHS are using to clear ground and turn the soil.

The RHS staff team welcomes the numerous volunteers who have been coming to help the project along.  What the team and volunteers have managed to achieve so far is fantastic, but they still have lots to do before their grand opening in Summer 2020.  If you would like to find out more about the project or how you can help visit: https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/bridgewater