Meet the Liberton gardener set to take on the best at the world landscaping championships

Josh Dow is a British Champion gardener and has just found out that he is to travel to Russia next year to compete in the World Championships.
Josh Dow is a British Champion gardener and has just found out that he is to travel to Russia next year to compete in the World Championships.

A TEENAGE gardener’s reputation is blooming - after he made the UK squad for the world landscaping championships.

Josh Dow, 19, has been named in the six-strong provisional team for the finals in Russia in 2019 after impressing judges at the UK finals last month.

The Liberton lad now faces months of intensive tests and training before a team of two is selected in the spring.

“I finished fifth overall,” said Josh, of November’s national competition in Birmingham.

“I was very happy how things went.

“I worked really hard for 16 hours over three days – there was a lot of sweat.

“I’m mega excited to reach the shortlist.”

Josh faces being put through his paces at Preston’s Myerscough College as team managers test the squad’s skills – including planting, decking and even drystone walling.

A team of two will be selected to represent the UK in Russia and a reserve pair put on stand-by.

“If I make the cut I get to go to Budapest in October next year and Kazan in Russia in October 2019,” said Josh.

“I would also have to go to training boot camps throughout the year to practise for those events.”

Landscaping competitions are seen as the ultimate test of a gardener’s skills and attributes.

Competitors have to design and deliver a six-metre by two-metre garden plot against the clock – with only a two millimetre margin of error.

Association of Professional Landscapers manager, Phil Tremayne, said it was an incredibly tough test.

“People underestimate the physicality of it,” he said.

“It’s a real test and really, really hard – it’s known as the best competition no one has heard of.”

Josh, who runs his own firm JDS Gardening, has also come to the attention of Theo Paphitis from TV’s Dragon’s Den.

The multi-millionaire has invited Josh to a conference in February as part of his Small Business Sunday drive to encourage entrepreneurs. 
Keen physics student Josh left James Gillespie’s High School at 17 and was all set to study civil engineering only for the pull of the outdoors to be too great.

So he went to study horticulture at the Oatridge Campus of Scotland’s Rural College.

“I changed my mind and became a landscaper instead,” he recalled. “I’d already started at 16 with my mum giving me a lift to jobs at the weekend.

“At 17, I started to get more customers and at 18 got my first van – now I’ve got two.”

And business is growing fast, with 90 garden maintenance clients and a new landscaping branch set-up with the second van.

It was Josh’s drive that brought him to the attention of officials at the Association of Professional Landscapers.

“The thing with Josh is, he went through the process before and didn’t do too well,” said Mr Tremayne.

“But he knuckled down, did some extra training and set up his own business as well - that’s testament to him.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com