Ryde’s popular Vernon Square, described by gardening guru and volunteer Mike Fitt as a “special place”, will hold its Summer Garden Party next weekend.

On Saturday, July 13,the party will start at 2pm and will feature delicious home-made cakes, strawberries and cream, and performances by local musicians, including Vectis Brass, The RUG Band and Steve Love.

Once derelict and under threat by developers, the land was rescued by local campaigners, who turned it into the thriving garden it is today.

The Square was officially opened by the late environmentalist David Bellamy in 1989.

Mr Fitt, former director of parks for the London Royal Parks, now lives in Ryde and is a volunteer at the square.

He said: “We are very lucky. This lovely Georgian square dates from the 1830s. In those days only local residents had a key to the square gardens, whereas today the gates are open during the day for all.”

The square is cared for entirely by volunteers, and relies on events, such as the summer party, to finance upkeep and improvements.

Mr Fitt thanked all the volunteers, including those who open and close the gates.

He said there are a number of wonderful plants in the garden, including a stinking hellebore which is said to smell like roast beef, an “amazing” 30-year-old Persian Ironwood, and the Butcher’s Broom plant, used by bygone butchers to scrape their blocks.

The lawn is home to a colony of mining bees.

The garden has a fascinating history.

Before the area’s housing was built, the land now occupied by Vernon Square was a base for medieval ropemakers.

The party will include a raffle and wine, Prosecco, Pimm’s, tea and coffee. Entrance is £2 but free for members.

Horticulturalist Mike FittHorticulturalist Mike Fitt (Image: Contributed)