IN a bid to bring the community together, and keep a beloved village tradition going, the residents of Humshaugh are set to open their garden gates to the public next month.

For 40 years Humshaugh has hosted its popular summer fair, but as numbers dwindled year on year, organisers were forced to plant new seeds of inspiration to find ways to continue the annual celebration. Now the concept has bloomed into life.

Humshaugh Open Garden event, in collaboration with St Peter’s Church, was the brainchild of locals Pat and David Prest, but has been spurred along by fellow organisers John and Joy McCollom, Pat and Graham Blackler, and Rev. Steve Wilkinson. Eight residents in total will take part, with organisers leading by example.

“The fair was once a real occasion for people in the village, but it hasn’t managed to grab the attention of the next generation,” said Pat Prest.

“The open garden event was a way of hopefully attracting some fresh faces with some different, whilst continuing to bring the community together and raise money for helping to preserve and run the church and its services.”

Pat and David will open the gates of their traditional garden, filled with a colourful selection of pots and planters at The Cottage, which dates back 1760 and was once part of the Humshaugh House estate.

Rev. Wilkinson will show guests around the historic vicarage and the working farmland attached to it, where they can learn about sheep farming and the cider production which takes place on the grounds.

Since moving to the village three years ago, he said he had been welcomed with open arms by residents, and described the community spirit “really something special”.

He also stressed the importance of raising money locally to help run the church.

“There is a misconception in society that the church is remarkably wealthy, but in fact we rely hugely on what is raised here in the village,” he explained.

“Chaplaincy services, weddings, funerals... in order to keep providing these for people we have to have the funds to do so. This is why events such as these are of such importance.”

John and Joy, who were organisers of the original Summer Fayre in 1982, will also take part, giving guests a tour of their garden at Greenacres, including the leeks, rhubarb and garlic growing in their prized vegetable bed.

Other gardens taking part include one of the oldest houses in Humshaugh, West End Terrace which dates back to the 1700s, and was once the business of a local butcher. It’s cottage garden and vegetable patch are also open to the public.

Waynriggs House, which boasts one of the largest mature gardens, will allow visitors to peruse its Victorian summer house and fruit trees.

A plant stall and a children’s treasure hunt will also take place on its grounds.

Owners of the historic Hopewell House, formally the school master’s house, Sally and Ray Blankley, have restored the garden over ten years from wild and overgrown to a botanical haven, whilst Diane and Peter Linnett’s garden at Hadrian Court is filled with bush roses, peonies and most recently dahlias, which extend their flowering until the late summer.

A new horticultural development at Chesters Meadows is taking shape, with the residents designing a garden with different wildlife habitats in mind, including wild grasses and flowers and a side pond.

Humshaugh Open Gardens will take place on Saturday, June 1 between 2pm and 4pm.

Tickets and maps can be collected from the village hall.