THE ROYAL Horticultural Society has scrapped plans to open its newest garden at Bridgewater this summer.

The £32 million RHS Garden Bridgewater was due to open its gates to the public in July, but because of the coronavirus crisis the opening date has now been put back to May 11 next year.

The society says the decision was made because capacity for people working to build the garden has been limited due to the need to ensure safe distancing among staff and contractors.

Some projects have been put on hold and others are being slower to come together than previously planned.

When finished Bridgewater, off Leigh Road, Worsley, will be the society's fifth site and will feature 11 gardens in the 156 acre grounds. It is expected to attract around a million visitors a year.

Sue Briggs, RHS director general, is saddened at having to delay the opening.

She said: “Whilst this is disappointing news for so many, we know that everyone will understand why we had to make this delay.

"As with every decision we make, the health and safety of our employees and contractors is paramount.

“RHS Garden Bridgewater will now open the week before RHS Chelsea Flower Show, meaning that in May 2021 the RHS will be doing more than ever in its history to promote gardening, growing and horticulture to support nurseries, growers, the horticultural industry and really get the nation gardening.

"I think everyone now knows how important this is for our health and the environment so what better way to celebrate the return of Spring and British horticulture at its finest.”

The society's other gardens at Wisley, Harlow Carr, Rosemoor and Hyde Hall are also currently closed.