HE has spent his entire working life nurturing every root and every branch.
Willie Robertson knows all there is to know about gardening – a fact perfectly illustrated by the many prize certificates that adorn the walls of the potting shed in the grounds of Gordon Castle in Fochabers.
The lettering may have faded, but the 50 or so pieces of sun-bleached cardboard awarded to Willie more than half a century ago serve as a constant reminder of his green-fingered talents.
Now aged 82, his fingers may not be quite as nimble as they once were. Even so, Willie’s expertise is still plain to see inside the castle’s impressive walled garden.
Willie has seen it all in a career at the castle which has lasted 66 years – getting to know every branch of every tree, while also growing all manner of exotic fruit that had no right to thrive in the traditionally chilly climate of northern Scotland.
Despite his advanced age, Willie still retains the same passion that he exhibited as a 16-year-old when he first made the short journey to the castle from his home in Fochabers.
Head gardener at the castle for many years, Willie has wound down his workload over the past decade or so. But now more than ever, his experience and memories are proving invaluable.
The walled garden at the castle is at the beginning of a major renovation project which it is hoped will return it to its former glory.
At over eight acres, the walled garden is one of the largest in the country.
In its heyday, in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, it provided an abundance of fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and herbs for the castle and estate.
For the rest of Willie's story, see this week's print edition of the 'Northern Scot'