More than 300 people attended the official opening of The Walled Gardens, in the grounds of Wynyard Hall Hotel and Spa.
Owner of the luxury hotel, Sir John Hall, his daughter and managing director of the business, Allison Antonopoulos, together with the UK’s leading rose expert, Michael Marriot, and Mayor and Mayoress of Stockton, Councillor Ken Dixon and wife Linda, opened the garden today with a formal ribbon cutting.
Speaking in the gardens, Sir John Hall said: “This is just the start of a £5 million project, over the next five years.
“My daughter Allison has carried my dream through to reality.
“When I was out of business for two years with prostate cancer Allison stepped in. She’s gave it a woman’s touch, with the gardens and tea rooms.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve got here, but it’s not just for me and Wynyard, it’s for the region to enjoy, we need more attractions to bring people here.
I’m very proud of what we’ve got here, but it’s not just for me and Wynyard, it’s for the region to enjoy, we need more attractions to bring people here.Sir John Hall
“I hope it will become a great leisure attraction.”
The £1.6m Walled Garden, designed by multi-Royal Horticultural Society award-winning designer Alistair Baldwin, contains more than 3,000 roses, several water features, and scenic seating areas.
Mrs Antonopoulos said: “We’ve had the hotel for 9 years now and it’s doing really well, so it was just a natural progression to restore the historical gardens.
“Dad was involved with the creation of the gardens with designer Mr Baldwin and Associates and there’s acres of historical gardens yet to be developed.
“We have plans for a cookery school, a children’s garden, which will be fabulous and we will create picnic areas, public footpaths and walkways which will bring you back to the hotel.”
Mr Marriot, from David Austin Roses, supplied the garden’s roses.
He said: “There’s a wonderful mixture of roses and perennials. By mixing roses with other plants you get a longer flowering season and it will help to keep the roses healthy.
”Roses start to flower in June through to October depending on the weather and here’s blubs planted for very early spring as well.”
The Grand Marquee, which is adjacent to The Walled Gardens, is where guests who had bought tickets to be part of the special opening day enjoyed afternoon tea and live entertainment.
Liz Best, 70, and friends Margaret Dodds, 81, and Marie Nixon, 78, all from Seaham, were at The Walled Garden event for afternoon tea.
Liz said: “The gardens are absolutely beautiful. Walled gardens are always something nice to see and the coffee shop is lovely too.”
The on site state-of-the-art visitor’s centre, shop and cafe is packed with seasonal products, gifts and home wear goods, and is open daily between 10am and 5.30pm.
The Walled Gardens’ admission prices are £5 for adults, £2 for children aged between 5 and 12, £14 for a family pass (two adults and three children), £30 for an annual pass for up to eight visits a year.