‘Muchty’s ‘tattie man’ helps dig for victory at Chelsea

John Marshall (right) at Chelsea with his wife Rhona and Morrice and Ann Innes.
John Marshall (right) at Chelsea with his wife Rhona and Morrice and Ann Innes.

A potato expert from Auchtermuchty is full of golden wonder after returning triumphant from Chelsea Flower Show.

John Marshall and his wife Rhona were part of a four-strong team that scooped the first-ever gold medal for spuds at the prestigious event.

They helped Morris and Ann Innes create a magnificent display of 140 varieties of potatoes from their 600- strong collection grown on the outskirts of New Machair, Aberdeenshire.

The couple spent 12 days at the show, putting in daily 13-hour shifts to make sure the display was ready in time for the Sunday 9pm deadline - which they made with a minute to spare.

They met a host of celebrities, including Janet Street-Porter, Brenda Blethyn, Nicholas Parsons and Bianca Jagger; were interviewed by gardening guru Monty Don and at one point were invaded by chefs inspired by the magnificent array of potatoes.

Garden designer Joe Swift even used the display as a continuity backdrop as he talked about the potato being grown on the 1995 Colombian Space shuttle.

“We were going to work the stand in shifts but the popularity was such that we were all at hand to exchange ‘tattie talk’”, said John.

“We reckoned we had spoken with over 50 nationalities.

“It was a truly amazing experience for Rhona and me. I had always promised to take her there one day when I had retired and there we were every day from 8am till 9pm!”

John, known to many in ‘Muchty as ‘the tattie man’, last year spearheaded celebrations to mark the unveiling of a plaque in honour of Archibald Findlay, a potato breeding pioneer who had a seed factory in the burgh.

Findlay was one of 12 Scottish luminaries to receive a plaque from Historic Scotland.