HAILED by their neighbours as the gardening “King and Queen”, a Peebles couple have spent decades transforming the grass verges on their street into an attractive wildlife haven.

‘If you want something done right, do it yourself’ – an age-old adage that was brought to life by Brian Elliot and his wife Lynne.

The King of Kingsway, 72, moved to the street in 1976.

When Scottish Borders Council stopped cutting the steep grass banking outside his home, he and his neighbour Billy Duncan rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job.

That was 20 years ago, and Billy has since moved, but green-fingered Brian continues to develop the plantation garden, with many comparing it to the beauty of Dawyck’s botanical garden.

If the display were in the running at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show, judges would go wild for the attractive shrubs and nectar-rich flowers, which grab the attention of bees and butterflies.

But Kingsway’s Monty Don has not only created a garden that is pleasing to the eye, he has also built a home for wildlife.

“Over the years I’ve planted a variety of shrubs, trees and bushes and flowers and put bark down," he said.

"It’s a great habitat for insects which encourages birds.

"We get lots of butterflies, bees and it’s a wee haven for hedgehogs.

"It’s just lovely hearing the birds singing and the bees buzzing."

The 72-year-old says his nature reserve is appreciated by many in the town.

Having created the garden and maintained it for 20 years, we asked Brian if it is a labour of love.

He laughed: “I don’t like gardening – it’s a chore.

"At least that’s what I tell people when they stop to speak.

"Neighbours and locals passing by do appreciate it, which makes it worthwhile.”

The garden, which spans over 60 metres, hasn’t cost Brian an arm and a leg – just his big toe!

“It was 10 years ago. I’d just come back from holiday and had my sandals on.

"I went out to cut the grass and slipped down the banking and cut off my big toe,” he explained.

“It was my own stupid fault. I should’ve put my safety boots on. I learned a valuable lesson that day.”

Brian’s efforts were recognised in 2016 when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Peebles in Bloom.

You could call Brian the king of ‘ungardening’. Rather than creating a controlled environment with a perfectly manicured lawn full of chemicals and pesticides, he has brought back the beauty of wilderness and reversed the ecological decline.

He has built a home for the local wildlife which has Peebles residents and birds singing in symphony.