A GREEN-FINGERED retiree from Pathhead is proving that old age is no barrier to cultivating the perfect garden.
Jack Davidson first learned his skills from his father while growing up on a farm near Ratho.
Now, after a lifetime of work as a greenkeeper and parks department foreman, the 85-year-old has used all his nous to create one of Midlothian’s most highly-rated gardens.
Mr Davidson this month claimed the gold award in the best-kept garden in Midlothian competition for council tenants.
Judges from the Midlothian Tenants Forum rated the entries and ruled his front garden – which is awash with a wide variety of begonias – to be the pick of the crop.
Mr Davidson created the garden from scratch, having moved into the council home with his wife Christina 48 years ago.
The couple have three children, six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
He said: “In those days, everyone had their own garden and they grew their own vegetables. When it was gardening time, I used to go out and help my dad.
“When I got my own house, I always looked after my own garden and grew my own vegetables.”
Among Mr Davidson’s first jobs was working as a greenkeeper at both Kingsknowe and Craigmillar Park golf courses.
He would later become the foreman with the council’s parks department at King’s Park in Dalkeith.
“The old Dalkeith Council bought a ride-on machine for cutting their grass and they were looking for an experienced driver, so I applied there and got the job,” he said.
Mr Davidson would later find himself working for Midlothian Council for two decades following a merger of the region’s smaller authorities. He retired at the age of 60, having been told a back injury could leave him in a wheelchair if he persisted with physical labour.
The gardener did not let the setback stop him from tending his patch at home.
He still spends one day a week keeping his garden in the best condition, with his lawn immaculate and the flower beds admired by others in the village.
A keen vegetable grower, Mr Davidson is also a former Scottish champion for his onion sets in the National Vegetable Society’s competition.
“I grow onions and go around the flower shows showing vegetables and pot plants,” he said. “There’ll come the day when I’ll have to give up, but I’m still managing to do it.”
Mr Davidson – an honorary member of the Pathhead & District Horticultural Society – also won the best floral display for Midlothian. It was the second year running that his garden has been crowned the best overall.
He won vouchers for Mayshade Garden Centre.