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Jim McColl

Biography of radio and TV garden presenter Jim McColl

He is most famous for being one of the original presenters and the longest serving presenter and gardener of Aberdeen television programme The Beechgrove Garden which is broadcast on BBC Scotland. He first presented the programme in 1978 with George Barron who remained a veteran presenter until he retired in 1984. Sadly George died in 2005.

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Beechgrove Garden

In 1995 the team started what was to be a long running radio gardening programme called The Beechgrove Potting Shed.

Since 1995 he has been presenting and answering gardening questions during the Beechgrove Potting Shed BBC Radio Scotland programme on a Sunday afternoon from 12:05 to 1pm. With a team of professional gardeners they give listeners advice, tips and hints for growing plants, vegetable sand flowers in the Scottish climate and news such as produce shows and events.

He has worked on many other radio programmes such as The Scottish Garden.

With such a broad Aberdonian accent and speaking Doric it may come as a surprise that he was not born in Aberdeen but Kilmarnock. His birth name is James H McColl.

His gardening education started at the West of Scotland Agricultural College, Auchincruive in Ayr where he completed a Scottish Diploma in Horticulture; National Diploma in Horticulture. His first horticultural job was with them.

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Other jobs soon followed which included posts at the University of Reading, Shropshire LEA to be the Horticultural Advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) Advisory Service in the East Midlands and the National Agricultural Advisory Service.

In 1973 he returned to his native Scotland when he was appointed the Horticulture Advisor of the North of Scotland College of Agriculture. This included Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Orkney and Shetland Islands.

In 1974 became the head of the Horticultural Research and Development Unit at Craibstone.

In 1978 he moved into Aberdeenshire when he managed the innovative Waste Energy Project at the Glen Garioch Distillery in Oldmeldrum.

In the same year Jim joined George Barron to start a new gardening TV programme for BBC Scotland. Their early work helped The Beechgrove Garden become one of the most popular and long running television programmes for Scottish viewers.

For his services and devotion to horticulture he was awarded the Scottish Horticultural Medal in 1982, an Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1996, The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Gold Veitch Memorial Medal in 2000, Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Societies in 2003) and became an Honorary Fellow of the Scottish Agricultural College in 2004.

In 2007 Jim McColl won the Best Nations and Regions Presenter at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards. He was awarded this at Grosvenor House in London during a ceremony attended by many stars and famous people.

During these years he has broadcast in many mediums like regional newspapers, radio and television where he presents or talks about a wide range of topics and issues.

He has been a member of many societies and boards such as being a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, a past Convenor of the National Farmers Union (NFU) of Scotland Glasshouse and Nursery Committee, was the first Chairman of the annual Scotgrow Exhibition and Conference, was a Council member of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and member of their Gardens Advisory Committee, a committee member of the RHS Scotland's National Gardening Show, a Trustee and Vice Chairman of the Board of Gardening Scotland and Vice Chairman of the Board of the Todhill Country Centre the charity for the care of adults with learning difficulties in Ayrshire.

After reading Jim McColl's bio you may think he does not have any spare time, but he does make time for the odd round of golf and he is the regular compere for the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra.

He often undertakes engagements as an after dinner speaker especially at charity fund raising events and was the voice of the Bon Accord Glass Grampian television advert Owl.

In June 2007 he opened the Butterfly Bush Retreat therapy garden at the Hawthorn Day Unit at Aberdeen Royal Cornhill Hospital. The Hawthorn Day Unit assists in the developing of life skills for adults with learning difficulties. It contains a seating area, patio and colourful plants. It took two years to create and was funded by the Friends of Elmwood and Aberdeen Countryside Project.

On the 24 March 2007 Jim along with the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, John Reynolds, officially started the Aberdeen In Bloom 2007 campaign at the David Welch Winter Gardens in the Duthie Park.

He was married in 1959. His wife is nicknamed Billie and they have a son (Douglas) and a daughter (Jennifer). His grandson (from Jennifer) is called Ben who shares the same birthday as Jim.

There is another famous Jim McColl who is a Glasgow based entrepreneur of Jim McColl Associates Civil and Structural Engineers. They are not related.

A biodegradable eco friendly gardening jacket was nicknamed Jim's Jaiket in his honour. It was invented by students at the School of Textiles and Design at Heriot Watt University. It is made from hemp and potato starch and can be added to the compost heap once no longer needed. It has plenty of pockets to help find homes for all the bits and pieces needed whilst outdoors.

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