A TEENAGE gardening entrepreneur is taking time out from growing his business - to take on the UK’s best landscapers in a national competition.
Green-fingered Josh Dow, from Liberton, has made it through to the WorldSkills UK competition at Birmingham’s NEC in November.
And the JDS Gardening boss is looking to claim the top prize and with it qualification for the world finals in Russia in 2019.
“I got into gardening just helping out my family cutting grass when I was about 12,” said Josh, now 19.
“It was just doing bits and bobs but I really enjoyed it and took to it straight away. I’d help my gran and uncle out by going round and cutting their lawns.
“I like working outdoors - though now I have a business I spend more time in the office.”
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.”
Now business is blooming, with 90 garden maintenance clients and a new landscaping branch set-up with the second van.
Josh has even started recruiting, with first member of staff his older brother Ellis, 20.
“It’s a family business and it’s working well - though I’m his boss so he’d probably give a different answer,” joked Josh.
“My mates are pretty impressed. Most of them work in offices so it’s a bit different. Some of them give me a hand at weekends as well.”
Josh also made the finals last year, finishing fifth overall, and is determined to bring home the top prize in Birmingham.
The competition sees the best gardeners from across the UK work on a plot to strict plans, all against the clock.
“You have to build the garden and compete against everybody else,” said Josh. “It’s real test of gardening skills, mostly landscaping but also planting.
“I just make sure I’m prepared and work pretty fast because if you take too much time, you’re not going to win.
“I get a wee bit nervous before but once I get in there, I just get my head in the game.”
His mother Melanie, 45, is justifiably proud - and not the least bit surprised at Josh’s entrepreneurial and competitive successes.
“He’s always had lots of drive and ambition. He was always building stuff and inquisitive - asking how things worked,” recalled a beaming Ms Dow.