How did you get in to gardening?
I've been interested in gardening since I was a child; my mum and dad had about an acre. I used to get pocket money for picking out stones. I also loved to get into the pond - maybe that's why I'm always the one in the waders at Beechgrove.
After studying geography at university, I moved to Scotland and gardened while doing day release classes in amenity horticulture. I saw an advert for a gardener behind the scenes - I didn't even own a TV at the time. I worked at the original Beechgrove Garden for 3 years as assistant and then head gardener. Then I moved on to presenting while still head gardener. Now, I do presenting for radio and TV, writing and helping out at various garden centres in Scotland.
What are your gardening likes and dislikes?
I like a low maintenance and natural approach to gardening. Staking herbaceous is a job I can really do without - the plants are lovely, but I'd rather find varieties that can stand on their own. Similarly, I'm not a lover of planting through fiddly polypropylene, but I do like the results it gives.
What are your most/least favourite plants?
Where do I start? I love ferns, ornamental grasses, wonderful woodland plants like Trillium, Epimedium and Erythronium. It is always a joy to see the snowdrops - so dainty, but really hardy. They are a sign that the growing season is just around the corner. I'm always on the lookout for low maintenance shrubs for my large garden. My favourite cut flower is definitely the sweet pea. Then there are alpines and trees (especially Sorbus) and the list goes on and on...
What is your home garden like?
My own garden is about 8 acres and is quite natural - it has to be because of the size but I also want it to blend in with the surrounding landscape. A large part of the site is a field but I still have a mown path through it; I wouldn't be without my mulching mower. It is great to have a number of mature trees and running water, which really adds to the atmosphere. The garden is a haven for wildlife like red squirrels, deer, badgers, heron and even otters (but hopefully no rabbits!).
What do you do outside of The Beechgrove Garden?
As a member of the executive committee for Scotland's Garden Scheme; I try to encourage more gardeners to open their gardens for charity. Big or small, we're always looking for new gardens.
I'm really lucky, because gardening is both my hobby and my career. I do lots of gardening when I'm at home. When I get the time, I also like to go skiing and walking in Scotland.