My interest in gardens and gardening began as a child. My brother and  I visited and stayed over at our grandparents house regularly.

Here we are starting out on life’s journey, I think in 1953. I am the little one.

We! lived on the top floor of a tenement block, making the visits to grandmas house all the more special.

They had a large garden which was beautifully maintained, the days spent there were the best of my childhood.

In February of 1952  our father died at the age of thirty three, everything would now be very different. My poor mother did everything in her power to do what was best for her three children, myself at six years of age, my brother ten and my two year old sister who had been the apple of her fathers eye.


My Dad Alexander Cruickshank, 1941, served on the light cruiser HMS Aurora.  My Mum Georgina pictured 1937



Myras Mum and Dad at a wedding probably in the late 1940s and a picture of Myras Mum in 1936


(1963) Myself in the middle with my brother Alex on my right and Ricky Simpson on my left



Myra in January of 1967 with her family dog Laddie and in December of the same year with our first daughter


Here I am in the Summer of 1965 the year before we were married


Giving my daughter a bath in Christmas of 1967


Moving on a little more than a decade, in nineteen sixty nine Myra and I who incidentally married very young got our first house with a garden. It was a council house with a small garden, moving in with our two children who were still babies was like being given a mansion.


Myra with the girls when we were on holiday in 1979


In 1985 we moved to our present house near the river Dee. Now we have a large garden which has given us a great deal of pleasure.We first were persuaded in the summer of 1991 to enter our front garden into the “Aberdeen in Bloom” competition (Aberdeen south.) We were more than delighted to get placed third. Although we had been gardening for a number of years this was the point when it was to become a little more than just a hobby.

In 1992 we won “Best Front Garden” in our area. From that time up until 2005 we have had another ten firsts. One of which was “Best Front Garden” Overall Winner, and one year we received “Best Overall” for our back garden of which we were particularly proud.

(edit=  18th March 2009)  2006 overall winner front garden. 2007 best front garden for area. 2008 overall winner for back garden.

*** update on February 14th 2015 *** On December of 2013 we uprooted and moved to a village in Cheshire to be near family. I dont think we will fully get over leaving our Aberdeen home.  My more recent posts are about the goings on in Cheshire.


Two weddings for us in 1966


Our garden has also been featured in the weekly magazine ‘Garden News’ and appeared on the television programme ‘Beechgrove Garden’.

Now when our grandsons visit I find myself wondering, when you are both grown up will you reflect on the times spent at grandma and grandads.

 My mother and father married in 1940. Soon he would be in the war serving on the light cruiser HMS Aurora.



About Us — 30 Comments

  1. Scouring the website for local gardening ‘lessons’ I came across your website. I think I know the house you live in as I pass it on a regular basis driving into Aberdeen and am always amazed by it! You must put in a lot of effort to keep it looking so good! Wonderful photographs and lots of useful information on the various plants. Keep up the good work! You have inspired me and if you are ever thinking of giving lessons please, please let me know.

  2. Having a look at other people’s blogs and trying to read more than a couple of posts. I knew I had seen your garden before . It must have been on Beechgrove……
    PS What a stylish couple. How about an up to date photo of the two of you? I might even put one of us on our site.

  3. Hi Alistair
    Came across your website by chance whilst looking for a spring bulb,fritillaria pyrenaica.which was under a photo gallery full of them .I clicked on the picture and up you came.Boy am i pleased about that.What wonderful plants you grow.
    I reside just outside London so i don’t know if you can help me find frit.pyrenaica.I had some in a pot last year, but on inspection today ,as its bulb planting time, the bulbs seem to have dried up,so no chance of them growing.I have looked up a few bulb nurseries but none seem to hold this bulb.Can you recommend one where i might purchase this beautiful thing.
    Thanks for your time
    Iris Clarke.

  4. hi alaister just been reading your story in the sunday post i feel i have known you all my life i will be keeping in touch from know on and hope to share your gardening tips . regards rob ramage

  5. Hi there! I live in New Zealand now, but I’m Aberdeen born and bred. From your lovely photos I would put you round about my parents age, my mum still gardens a bit. Before I moved here I’d never had a garden, now we’ve got 20 odd acres – 5 acres is proper garden. I’ve had a huge amount to learn and scour blogs for gardening stuff – that’s how I came across yours. Your garden is totally amazing!
    I get back over to Aberdeen every 2 years to see mum and dad ( mum comes over a lot – dad stays at home!) next time I’m over I’m determined to drive past your beautiful garden and have a peek!

  6. Enjoyed your life and garden stories.Live 2 miles west of Stonehaven .Have acre of garden 2 fish ponds and can never get finished in garden or greenhouse but love it like you both seem to do .Bit of a mish mash here but keeps myself and hubbie sane .

  7. Hi Alistair,
    I first came across your site late last year which was a great bonus. I have been trying to get my garden set up over the last 6 years and finally this year I have managed it thanks I must say to your wonderful Gardening Calender it has shown me where I have been going wrong and has actually cut down on the amount of work I am doing. Thank you very much for your advice my garden looks like someone who knows what they are doing has been working in it now 🙂

    • Thanks Paula, you brought a smile to my face and made me feel chuffed. Some of my regular visitors will be thinking that I bribed you to say this, mind you I do have McAllisters in my family.

  8. Dont know if it’s your garden we pass heading out of Aberdeen when we have stayed at the Deeside Holiday Park which is amazing. We stopped by to take some pic’s. it’s even the arrangements attached to the garage door that are eye catching. if this isn’t yours, there must be 2 beautiful gardenS in Aberdeen. We also love a visit to Duthie parks winter gardens and this year found Johnston Gardens,FAB.

    • Hi Susan, we are on one of the side streets so it is not our garden. These days our front is a little more subtle than the one you talk of, although we at one time would have given them a run for their money.

  9. Hi there, I wonder if we are related? My grandad was Bill Simpson who had a brother Frank who was married to Bunty? They had a daughter called Myra. Would love to know. Liz

  10. Hi I think we are related. My dad was Eric Simpson and I think he was a cousin of your wife Myra. If this is the case, I would love to get in touch.


    Liz Gray

    • Hi Liz, My wife Myra is not a Simpson but I know very well Myra Simpson who you talk of. In 1963 my brother Alex Married Ella Simpson who was the second daughter of Frank and Bunty. Myra was the eldest and Frank and Bunty also had a son Richard Simpson who became a very successful business man in Aberdeen. Richard and Myra are the two still surviving.

  11. What an amazing find your website is! We’ve recently bought our first house in Aberdeen – to the west of you. We’ve been digging out an overgrown garden and have spent the afternoon creating a shallow sloped rockery just outside the front door – which my husband would like me to plant up as soon as possible. I’d like a very typical scottish feel and colours to match- any suggestions would be greatly appreciated – I love scottish gardens- it’s south east facing.

    Thank you,

    • Hello Karen, thank you very much. If you are looking to create a true rockery I wouldn’t tie yourself down too much to the Scottish thing. I would visit Ben Reid of Aberdeen, they have a good selection of rockery plants, ask them for advice, even ask them to help you select the plants. Read up a lot on the subject. I have seen Heathers and dwarf evergreen plants used, this can also look good but don’t expect to get it all spot on first time around. You will be tweaking and changing forever more.

  12. Good Morning, I am looking to source a abies koreana when I come up to Inverness on October. An address of your Aberdeen nursery would be useful where I can see the tree and purchase it.


    Alan Singleton

  13. Hello, came across your website by chance looking for Astible peach blossom for my backyard garden, your work is beautiful,wish I could do more gardening work but due to my back problem I am limited to do only light gardening, thank you for sharing this blog.


  14. I just wanted to say how absolutely stunning your gardens look and what talent you have. I am a lady in my mid 40s who has never had a garden before as I lived in a flat. I now own a house with a small back garden and this project has become my obsession! I am reading up, learning and getting inspired by gardens like yours. Amazing colours and design. Could you tell me the plants in the front garden of Aberdeen, I like the colours on the front border. Thank you.

    • Hello Gillian
      You now have the gardening bug, it wont go away. Many of the plants in the borders of our Aberdeen garden were Annual plants, thats the ones which at the end of the season get disposed of. The bright red were a Begonia named flamboyant. They develop tubers which have to be stored over Winter and then started off in the greenhouse in Spring. My advice would be to plant permanent shrubs and perennial flowers, bulbs also for Spring. Enjoy your garden.

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