Potts joined the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's Argyll site in 1966, aged 15. His first job was to tend to an area of long grass using hooks and scythes, with manual and petrol mowers following later.
He was soon enrolled on a City and Guilds Certificate in Horticulture and studied one day a week at Woodburn House in Glasgow. In the early 1970s Potts moved into staff accommodation within the Benmore estate. He married and had two children in the same decade.
Potts has many colourful memories of mishaps in the garden over his long career. One of his most vivid memories is of the devastating hurricane in 1968 which destroyed thousands of trees and jeopardised the garden's future. The cleanup took several years.
More recently in 2003, he came to the rescue after a visitor accidentally walked into the pond. The surface was covered in weed and the visitor, whose glasses had steamed up, mistook it for a lawn.
During his career, Potts received a number of awards. In 1983, he and garden curator Arthur Hall represented Benmore at the RHS Flower Show and won the only Gold Medal awarded that year. In 1995, Potts and two colleagues, Joe McCluskey and Geoff Godbert, were among the first recipients of the RBGE long service award.
Earlier this year Ian received his second long service medal in recognition of his 49 years' service, and he has recently received a letter of thanks for his long service from RBGE patron Prince Charles.
The last major works Potts was involved in include the oak pavilion overlooking the Bhutanese Glade and the installation of the restored Golden Gates back in their original position at the newly landscaped Glen Masson end of the garden.