How did you get in to gardening?
Gardening came down in the genes. My parents, aunts and uncle were all keen gardeners and my father and an uncle were both market gardeners. I left school little knowing what I would like to do and while I thought that I would like to become a shepherd, I took a job as a Gardener’s Boy. The rest, as they say, is history and after 50+ years I have to say I think that I may have made the right choice.
What are your gardening likes and dislikes?
I love the joy of seeing new seedlings germinating, it is exciting each time . I love vegetables in straight rows, the variety of leaf and plant textures that are possible to achieve with mixed planting, fruit trees, showing daffodils and hyacinths. I love autumn and all it brings with low light and rich yellow and orange. I like to bring humour to gardening
I am not too fond of bishop weed, bare soil, mares tail (although I have to live with it at my allotment), people that do not try to garden, and seeing good plants pruned into balls because the owners do not know what to do.
What are your most/least favourite plants?
This is the most difficult question as after so many years telling students how great all plants are (even Bishopweed) I fear I cannot really say there are any I hate or any that are my strong favourites...well, maybe Cercidiphyllum japonicum with its wonderful sweet scent, the unusual and strange Arisaemas. I like shrubs and trees most and well trained fruit trees send a shiver of pride down my spine. I love good groundcover plantings, high quality plantings and most of all potatoes (but I do not like planting and lifting them!)
My least favourites are weeds, neglected areas, bracken and the plant that has just died or poked me in the eye!!
What is your home garden like?
A mix of annuals (forget me nots and poppies sown 5 years ago), texture, colour, form and foliage. I use it as a testing ground for ideas. Some work, some don’t.
What do you do outside of The Beechgrove Garden?
I fish and shoot
Member of Oatridge College Board of management
Member of Beautiful Scotland judging panel and advisory committee
Member of Gardens and Designed Landscapes Advisory Committee of National Trust for Scotland
Member of Haddington Garden Trust
Member of Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society
Member of Council of Royal Horticultural Society
Chairman of the Qualifications Advisory Committee of RHS
Member of Institute of Horticulture
Member of International Society for Horticultural Science
Vice Chair of Board of Trustees of Gardening Scotland