Olive is pick of the bunch

Olive and Bruce King in their award-winning garden. Picture: Craig Halkett
Olive and Bruce King in their award-winning garden. Picture: Craig Halkett

The sweet smell of success greeted Olive King’s decision to enter the annual Falkirk Council Garden Competition.

More than 25 years since she last took a prize in the contest, Olive’s own little garden of Eden in Wallacestone impressed the judges so much that not only did she receive top prize for the Braes but she also lifted the overall title.

Best newcomer Pearl Shirra, aged 95, and son in law Duncan Paterson

Best newcomer Pearl Shirra, aged 95, and son in law Duncan Paterson

Olive admitted that gardening had been her “lifetime passion”, with her first efforts at growing anything in her teens.

She said: “When I started work in our family firm Fitzcharles Coaches, my colleague Davie Laidlaw challenged me to grow a peach tree from a stone and we would see whose was best. That’s what started me off and I’ve never looked back.

“When I was working, the garden was where I would go to dig some ground to relieve stress but now I’m retired, I find it totally relaxing. I just love to spend hours pottering about.”

Olive, who is helped by husband Bruce but mainly with the grass cutting, said she liked nothing better than to visit garden centres and would also look for inspiration from open garden events.

Grangemouth and Bo'ness winner Harriet Paterson

Grangemouth and Bo'ness winner Harriet Paterson

She added: “But what other people like to grow might not be to my taste but it’s good to pick up ideas. I entered the competition over 25 years ago when I lived in Newhouse Road, Grangemouth, and won a prize then.

“This year I thought my garden was looking quite good so decided to enter and was really surprised to win – but very delighted.”

And proving that you’re never too old to enter the competition, the winner of the Newcomer category for Falkirk was 95-year-old Pearl Shirra.

She was helped by son-in-law Duncan Paterson, from Carron, who said that she was so pleased with their efforts this year that she decided to enter the contest.

He said: “And low and behold she won. It’s great.”

This year’s external judge was Ian Stocks, from Dunipace, chairman of The Scottish Branch of The National Vegetable Society.

The presentation of prizes by Provost Pat Reid will take place on September 20.

The full list of winners is:

Falkirk: Private - Roger Findlay, High Station Road; Tenant – Christine Allen, Mandela Avenue; Senior citizen – Morag Robb, Dollar Gardens, Bainsford: Newcomer – Annie Shirra, Bantaskine Road.

Grangemouth and Bo’ness: Private – Norman Scott, 71 Thistle Avenue; Senior Citizen – John Duncan, Hamilton Road; Newcomer – Harriet Paterson, 33 Wallace Street.

Denny, Dunipace, Bonnybridge and Banknock: Private – Charles Johnman, Avonside Drive, Dunipace; Senior citizen – J.Reid, Stirling Street, Dunipace.

Larbert and Stenhousemuir: Private – Anne Macintosh, Allanbank Road, Larbert; Senior citizen – Jenny McCartney, Bryce Avenue, Carron; Newcomer – Carole Honeyman, Elizabeth Avenue, Larbert.

The Braes: Private – Olive King, Comyn Drive, Wallacestone; Senior citizen – Malvina Dwyer, Quarrybank Cottage, Falkirk Road, Avonbridge; Newcomer – Thomas and Janice Gray, Shieldhill Road, Reddingmuirhead.

Best church garden – St Mary’s RC Church, Bo’ness.

Best small garden – W.R. Coleman, Tummel Place, Grangemouth

Best wildlife garden – Stephen Weiss, Pirnie Cottage, Avonbridge Road, Slamannan

Overall winners: 1 Olive King, Wallacestone; 2 Charles Johnman, Dunipace; 3 Malvina Dwyer, Avonbridge