A far-travelled gardener is in the running for a top award.
David Smith, from Plean, was nominated for the Lantra Landbased and Aquaculture Learner of the Year by Oatridge College where he is studying for an HNC in landscape management.
The 29-year-old also grew his own business, Smith Landscapes of Stirling, while studying at the West Lothian college, combining his studies with long working hours, often up to seven days a week.
Originally from Wales, David has fulfilled his dream of working as a horticulturist and running his own business in the Forth Valley.
He gained valuable experience in the field, so to speak, working in the agriculture industry in Australia, in vineyards and on an orange farm, before training as a tree surgeon in New Zealand.
After meeting wife Katrina in Bali, the couple headed back to her home town here where David decided his future lay in horticulture and he began cultivating his love of plants at Torwood Garden Centre in Larbert.
“I’ve always had an interest in horticulture,” said David. “It started when I worked on my mother’s and grandmother’s gardens. It’s the difference you can make to a garden with a day’s work that appeals, as well as the fact that I’m constantly learning on the job. I love being outside.
“Building my business has been hard work, but I really believe that at the end of the day it will be worth it. It’s my ideal job really.”
Through his studies, David is hoping to add garden design and construction to the maintenance work he does at the moment.
Ann Burns, Oatridge’s head of horticulture and landscape construction, said: “David has taken the tremendous step, leaving paid employment and launching his own small business. But he still attends college without fail, regardless of workload, and is an energetic and enthusiastic class member and a real role model for younger students.”