About Green Alba.
Brian Sutherland, Green Alba (Green Alba Enterprises)- Alba is the Gaellic for Scotland.
I created this small business as a vehicle for numerous horticultural activities and as a way of keeping active. The Garden Expeditions are a brilliant way to see many different parts of Scotland and to share the experience with other people.
I was educated at Keith Grammar School, Keith in Banffshire, Scotland. I also continued my education at Elmwood College Cupar, Fife, Threave School of Practical Gardening, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire (National Trust for Scotland) and at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
In the beginning my early career was guided by Charles Roxburgh the then Youth Employment Officer in Keith Banffshire. Charles made all the arrangements for me to go to Balbirnie and apply for a place at Threave School of Practical Gardening.
I am grateful to all of my employers who supported my continuing and further education knowing full well that I would be moving on as part of my career development. To them I am eternally grateful. Their generosity was amazing. I could not have asked for more.
My working career started as Garden Boy under Jack Chalmers Head Gardener at Balbirnie House Markinch in the Kingdom of Fife. I could not have hoped for a better practical training in gardening. We grew everything you could hope to grow at Balbirnie. The fruit, vegetables and cut flowers were primarily grown to supply the Balfour family who owned the estate. Surplus was sold locally and sent to the markets of Dundee and Edinburgh by train. Balbirnie tomatoes were "the best".
I went on to train at Threave School of Practical Gardening (Castle Douglas) under Bill Hean. The National Trust for Scotland established the school and many young people trained there over the past fifty years. Whilst at Threave I worked for three weeks at Crathes Castle gardens, on Royal Deeside, which was very rewarding. We had a tour of Aberdeen with Arrol Winning the then Director and I wanted to work in this very progressive Links and Parks Department.
It was then, aged sixteen years, that I bought a motorbicycle and proceded to explore Scotland and visit many landscapes and gardens. I fell in love with our beautiful country.
I worked in Duthie Park and Johnston Gardens in the Links and Parks Department, Aberdeen under Arrol Winning who guided and supported me as a mentor for many years as my career developed. It was through Arrol's enthusiasm and guidance that I specialised in Arboriculture for a number of years. It was a new career then and a pioneering experience.
In FIfe County Council, under Jimmy Murdie, I worked in the tree and shrub nursery at Balmullo. This was valuable experience in the propagation of large range and number of plants for use throughout Fife County.
A few years in St Andrews University Botanic Garden, under Bob Mitchell, followed and this was very interesting as the move from the old gardens scattered around the University to Bassaguard was underway. This involved lifting and transplanting many plants including some which were semi-mature and hefty to handle.
Throughout this time in Fife I attended Elmwood College, Cupar Fife where Bert Robertson helped hundreds of young people gain City and Guilds qualifications in Horticulture. I also studied at evening class to obtain GCE O levels in a range of subjects.
My advice to young people is to do this at school. It is hard working all day and then attending evening class in the evening. I wished I had worked harder at school. To be wise after the event is easy. To be wise when you are young is harder.
Three years at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh (RBG) followed and during my time there I secured the Diploma in Horticulture (Edinburgh) and the National Diploma in Arboriculture (Royal Forestry of England Wales and Northern Ireland). Whilst at the RBG I worked for two weeks at Benmore in Argyll helping to clear some of the devastation caused by the gales of 1968. This was valuable work experience. The weather alone was amazing. For one week it rained heavily. The rain went in at the back of your neck and came out through your trousers. For the second week the sun shone non stop. This was my first encounter with the west of Scotland rain and ... the midges! Be affraid. Be very prepared!
Following this I worked in Essex, Manchester (Arboriculture) and Wakefield in West Yorkshire (Horticulture and Arboriculture) before returning to Glasgow to work in the Parks and Recreation Department lead by Keith Fraser. As a born Glaswegian this was a homecoming and I was determined to spend the rest of my life here. So far so good.
Over these years I have visited and revisited many gardens in Scotland, Ireland and England. Now I am still visiting Scotlands Gardens. Some for the umteenth time and others for the very first time. I don't think that I will have time to visit them all in my lifetime. There are so many beautiful gardens in Scotland and so many generous owners willing to facilitate visitors. You don't need to travel with me. I hope the photographs and information on this website will encourage you to explore. Feel free to use this website as a source of inspiration. If you feel that I could help with information and contacts please do contact me and I will do my best.
I am delighted and privileged to be able to introduce people to the joys of visiting wonderful landscapes and gardens in Scotland. Fresh air, great scents and gentle excercise combine with visual stimulation to make the experiences beneficial and memorable.
I hope that you enjoy Scotlands gardens and landscapes and wish you happiness when you visit Scotand.