LOCAL causes will benefit as the former chief executive of Greggs welcomes the public to open his vast gardens.

For years, Sir Michael Darrington and his wife Paula have taken part in the National Garden Scheme, inviting people to take a look around the gardens of their Middle Grange home, in Slaley.

This year the couple have decided to go it alone and all proceeds from an open garden event – to be held on Saturday between 1.30pm and 5pm – will be split between Tynedale Hospice at Home at St Mary’s Church, in Slaley.

The half-acre garden was started from scratch by Sir Michael and garden deisgner Paula, and has a curving belt of bamboos to protect a pond from north winds. The pond is now home to newts, frogs, toads and dragonflies.

Paula said: “The way the garden has evolved has often been in response to the problems of the site.

“The bandstand, a raised seating area circled by Hidcote lavenders, was made because originally there was a lot of metal rubbish in the field that needed to be disposed of.

“This was tidied up and hidden beneath a paved mound, contained by a drystone wall. Tall wooden posts are threaded through with ropes to support swags of Gertrude Jekyll roses, creating a scented place to look out across the garden.”

To balance the garden, there is a gravelled area with a rectangular space broken up by trees, rocks, clumps of phormium and a specimen of black bamboo.

Paula said: “This garden has a sense of fun and individuality. It is not a precious garden, the grandchildren love to play hide and seek among the bamboos and hedges.”