The above advert, from the 3 November 1948 Leven Mail, is for Largo Roses, which were grown at Kirkton Nurseries on the edge of Upper Largo beyond the cemetery. The 1940s aerial photo below shows the nurseries in the central rectangle, to the north of the cemetery and the school. The proprietor of Kirkton Nurseries was David Strathearn Abernethy. Born in 1900 in Dalkeith Parish, Midlothian, David was the son of David Alexander Abernethy an Inland Revenue Officer and Margaret Nisbet. By the time of the 1921 census, aged 20, David was already a 'nurseryman' working for Dickson & Co Nurserymen and living in Liberton.
By 1923, David Abernethy had relocated to Largo and was owner occupier of 'greenhouse, office and land' at Chesterstone Farm. The nursery would continue to operate from this site for more than four decades, David living on site for much of this time. He would become known locally as an authority on roses, acting as judge at local flower shows such as the St Andrews Rose Show.
In the summer of 1955 there was a fire at the Nurseries - the 20 July Leven Mail reported on the incident below. The fire started on the roadside, close to the wooden house of Mr Smith who worked at Kirkton Nurseries. Fortunately, the blaze was noticed quickly and was extinguished by a unit from Methil Fire Brigade before it reached the house. The Smith family were unharmed but a bed of roses was destroyed. A discarded cigarette was presumed to have led to the fire.
Below is a later advert from the 25 October 1961 Leven Mail and further below are three examples of adverts for Largo Roses which all appeared in the East Fife Mail in 1969. Note that by 1969, orders were taken through a Buckhaven telephone number. David Abernethy was now living at 4 Church Place, Upper Largo and had likely retired by this time. David Strathearn Abernethy died aged 78 in 1979. Do you remember the man responsible for making Upper Largo famous for roses? Do you recall Kirkton Nurseries and the rose beds? Did you ever have a catalogue or order roses? If so, please leave a comment.