Baxter’s name will live on with award

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A prize has been established as a way to honour the memory of a community gardener who transformed a patch of city wasteland, after he died last year.

Baxter Keiller, and his neighbour Christine McGrouther spent more than a year turning the patch of wasteland near their homes in Mayfield from barren to beautiful.

Born in 1927, Mr Keiller was one of the first residents to move into the Mayfield estate, where the garden was created, in the early 1960s.

Mr Keiller worked as a driving instructor before he retired. There was plenty of work to keep him busy in the community garden.

The whole community got involved with the gardening project. Some neighbours donated cuttings and flowers.

One neighbour, Paul Wilson, even volunteered his digger to move roots and branches and turn over soil. Christine said this “saved hours of back-breaking work” and prevented her and Baxter from “having to give up before we had even begun”.

The end result was a garden of which the community could be proud. The chairman of Melville Housing described Baxter’s work on the garden as “inspirational”.

Speaking in 2008, Mr Keiller said: “You never really finish these sorts of projects, they continually evolve.”

Sadly Mr Keiller passed away last year, at the age of 87, and Melville Housing bosses said they were “extremely sad”.

A prize has now been launched to showcase the work of unsung gardening heroes and keep Mr Keiller’s name alive.

The Baxter Keiller prize will aim to find the best garden in a Melville home and will be awarded by a panel of expert judges. The first prize is £75 of vouchers with two runner-up prizes of £25 each.

Melville Housing owns and manages almost 2000 homes in the Edinburgh area. Andrew Noble, Melville chief executive said “The gardening work he did alongside his neighbour Christine was fantastic and inspiring to all of us at Melville. We couldn’t think of a better way of celebrating his memory than by launching a competition to encourage others.”

The closing date for entries to the Baxter Keiller Prize is Friday, August 7. The winner will be announced at Melville’s AGM in September.