Harris Bugg Studio to design kitchen garden at RHS Bridgewater

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced that the design studio, Harris Bugg, has been chosen to design the new Kitchen Garden at RHS Bridgewater.

Submitted as part of a nationwide competition, the design by RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists, Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg, 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 Kitchen Garden will be a key element of the masterplan for the fifth RHS Garden devised by renowned architect Tom Stuart-Smith.

The Kitchen Garden will be set within the historic walls of the original Victorian Kitchen Garden with the design referencing the history of the surrounding landscape. Celebrating the heritage of the surrounding area and showcasing edibles of all kinds, the garden will combine beautiful edible planting with practical, traditional and new ideas to inspire visitors to grow their own at home.

Charlotte and Hugo point out that the design abstracts part of the route of the Bridgewater Canal, situated to the south of the site, as the bones of the navigation through the garden. Overlaid on the navigational design are the abstracted field boundaries of the area from the period the Canal was first opened. These form the bed layouts and smaller pathways through the larger character planting areas, allowing visitors of all ages and mobility levels to become immersed in the planting of the garden, as well as allowing access for maintenance.

The RHS challenged us to re-vision this space as a world class ornamental kitchen garden for the 21st century. Our aim is to create a garden that resonates with its rich and important historic past,“ explains Charlotte, “whilst of course being packed with horticultural inspiration for visitors.” She adds, “This garden will be memorable on many different levels, with plenty of take-home ideas. Food is the umbilicus that connects us all to growing, so we also want to explore how visitors can try out many of the ideas whatever the size of their own outside space.”

(pictured above: From left to right: Curator Marcus Chilton-Jones, Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg)

Evoking the spirit of Victorian walled kitchen gardens, the new garden will demonstrate a wide range of plants for a purpose – fruit and vegetables, medicines (both human and veterinary), herbs, disinfectants and pesticides, perfumes, dyes and more. 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 that benefit from the application of modern practice.

RHS Garden Bridgewater is an incredible legacy for not just for the RHS, but the whole of the North West region and we feel enormously honoured to be part of this project“, says Hugo. “We’re enjoying the development of the construction and horticultural detailing process now, but like any garden, the joy of this space is that it will change and evolve over time. We see this as just the beginning of a long-term relationship between us and RHS Garden Bridgewater.”

Charlotte and Hugo will help staff at RHS 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 independent 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 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 Bridgewater when it opens to the public in 2020. 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.

Marcus Chilton-Jones, Curator, RHS Garden Bridgewater commented: “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.”

Charlotte Harris and Hugo Bugg are an award-winning landscape practice with projects located in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. These two outstanding young designers joined together in May 2017, creating the new collaborative, creative landscape design practice Harris Bug Studio.

Between them they have four Gold medals, two Silver Gilts and a Best in Show at RHS Shows, including two gold medals at Chelsea, and it is no surprise that they were named “a great British creative trailblazer” by Country & Town House Magazine in March 2018.

It’s really excellent news that this talented pair are to design at RHS Bridgewater and I have a sneaky suspicion that Bridgewater’s jewel in the crown, is about to shine more brightly.

For information on Harris Bugg Studio visit: www.harrisbugg.com

Picture credits: Banner: Proposed design for the garden ©HarrisBugg Studio & RHS; Middle: Charlotte and Hugo with on the left Marcus Chilton-Jones, RHS Bridgewater Curator ©RHS, credit Mark Waugh. Bottom: The Walled Kitchen Garden at Worsley New Hall, before renovation. ©RHS Images