TWENTY FOUR gardens, including allotments, will be open during the eagerly anticipated Open Gardens event in Stokesley on Saturday and Sunday, July 3 and 4.

Cancelled during the pandemic, the event has drawn even more keen gardeners this year, many of whom have found gardening therapeutic during lockdown.

Some gardens on display have been created by whole families working together as a team. One couple have made a pizza oven from up-cycled materials found in their garden, which will be used during the event. There are brand new gardens on new estates, and others steeped in history, hidden down alleyways and enclosed by walls, in the historic town. Only large gardens are open this year so that people can safely socially-distance.

Open Gardens raises money for Teesside Hospice and is a community event with more than 100 helpers involved.

Organiser Julia Haigh is looking forward to opening up the gardens again.

"I'm excited as we have nine new gardens this year," she said. "There is a real blend of the old and the new, and exciting and creative things are happening in the gardens of our town. Our youngest gardener is 30 and our most senior one is 96."

Jazz will be featured in one garden, and participants are offering all kinds of refreshments from a glass of Pimms to a chocolate fountain. It is an opportunity for keen gardeners to share ideas and also to learn. There will be plants for sale, treasure hunts and nature trails – and lots of cake.

One couple has created a garden in their new home from scratch, in order to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary. "We are in our 80s and have transformed a bare fence and lawn into a wildlife friendly, low maintenance garden with vegetables, flowers and fruit tree," said William Smith. "Margaret's paintings will be displayed with 20 per cent of the sales going to the hospice."

Moving from an apartment in Shanghai to Stokesley, Matthew and Ellie Sellers bought a house with a small wrap-around cottage garden which they have changed into a family friendly space which is more manageable and makes the most of the light and shade. They built the pizza oven using clay and materials they found in the garden. "Having a wrap-around garden means we don't have one huge space, so the aim is to provide different areas for the whole family to sit, play and enjoy the garden at different times of day," said Matthew.

Josephine and James Park are the youngest couple to enter. The property they bought had been empty for some months, so was overgrown. Creating their garden has been a family project with the generations coming together sharing their knowledge and love of gardening. It is on the site of the old market garden in Stokesley.

"The grass reached our knees, so we kept losing the dog," said Josephine. "We eventually tamed it (the garden, not the dog). I call it my secret garden, as when I am out here as it brings a sort of peace to me. Eventually we want to transform the outbuildings into an outside bar."

Ian and Cherith Paul are both NHS workers and their garden is a space to unwind and is a welcome distraction from their work. After winning a fight against the brambles, they started experimenting with growing their own fruit and vegetables amongst the flowers. "You may find rhubarb amongst the tulips and gooseberries surrounded by hostas," she said. "The most interesting part of the garden is the wildlife pond, which the kids love."

Debbie Coulson, director of income generation at Teesside Hospice, said: “We’re so excited for another season of Stokesley Open Gardens. The support has always been fantastic but with 24 gardens taking part this year, it makes it the biggest one yet. A huge thank you to Julia, her support team and all the gardeners who have worked so hard to make the event a success. Plus, with Access Loft Solutions as a sponsor, it means every penny raised from this community event will go directly to supporting local people with a terminal illness. Thank you!”

Tickets, at £6 for the event, are available from The Yorkshire Store, Bexters' Tea Room, Teesside Hospice Shop, and Grainges' grocers in Stokesley.