A GROUP has been set up to appreciate North-East yards and encourage others to 'get yardening'.
A group celebrating the "hidden gems" that are Darlington's yardens – yard gardens – has been set up, with nearly 200 people sharing photos of their transformed small spaces.
Allison Malloch set up the Facebook group Darlo Yardens just five days ago to provide a space for the 'yardening' community.
The North Road woman, 54, started working on her yard during the pandemic as "it was something to do instead of playing Scrabble".
She said: "When we first looked at the house we liked it, but it didn't have a garden. My husband said he would build me one.
"So he built it and I grew it. I had no idea other people had these secret little areas.
"Nature is a big thing for me. There's nothing around North Road so I wanted to bring a bit of wildlife into the garden.
"I have been in and out of it like a yoyo and have now started on the front. People stop when they walk past, it's nice that people notice."
<<<Click through the photo gallery at the top of the page to see yards>>>
A garage door opens up Mrs Malloch's garden, which is an 'L' shape full of Japanese bamboo and a range of other plants.
She added: " Sometimes it's a mindset thing, you look at a yard and don't see what you can do with it."
It comes as reconnecting with nature is encouraged by mental health organisations this Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 10 to 16.
"I would have lost my mind without it during lockdown," Mrs Malloch, who also describes her yard as a 'yungle' – a yard jungle –, said.
"I love it, it's peace and tranquillity."
Kristie Peach has painted her yard different shades of purple and pink.
She said: "It's mine and my two young daughters yarden, we love it so much, I'm wanting way more plants but for a starter yarden we love it. A bright and happy place to spend time outdoors."
Meanwhile, Liz Jinks has filled her yard with "people's old junk" - it features an old guitar, fireplace, shoes and even a skeleton.
She said: "Lots of plants still to plant. We also use lots of people's old junk and make use of it. As they say, one man's junk is another man's treasure."
Darlington Council used to run a Darlington in Bloom competition, with a category dedicated to yards, but this has not taken place since 2016.
Councillor Andy Keir, cabinet member for local services, said: “It’s great to see people taking pride in where they live. We’re working hard to ensure Darlington is blooming to create a pleasant environment for residents, workers and visitors and hope to take part in this year’s Northumbria in Bloom competition.
“We are investing in our historic yards which is really making the area come alive. We’ve installed bright coloured doors, with further plans for wall art, festoon lighting, seating, planters and a living green wall.
"We encourage people to take a look and enjoy a wander around the town to see how we are transforming these small spaces.
“We would also urge everyone to play their part by looking after their local environment and support our efforts to help keep Darlington blooming.”