Percy Thrower

Shrewsbury’s (and the first) celebrity gardener

Percy Thrower is often described as 'Britain's first celebrity gardener'. He became a regular fixture on television and radio from the 1950s through to the 1980s, including the BBC series Gardener's World and Blue Peter.

After an illustrious career working in Royal Parks and Gardens, Percy moved to Shrewsbury to become Parks Superintendent in 1948. He took up his Shrewsbury post at only 32 and originally only intending to stay a few years. But, like many before and since, Shropshire got under his skin and he decided to stay. After some 28 years he eventually retired in 1974.

Percy was responsible for Shrewsbury's 29 acre Quarry Park and amongst his many achievements he created The Dingle, a floral masterpiece. The Dingle is a beautiful sunken garden landscaped with alpine borders, colourful bedding plants, shrubbery and water features.

His first TV appearance came in 1951 on the programme Picture Page, in which he spoke about a garden he had designed in Berlin on behalf of the Shropshire Horticultural Society. Little did he know that this appearance would propel him into becoming one of Britain's most well-loved television personalities.

Percy was a regular on the BBC, broadcasting on both radio and TV. His own garden in the village of Merrington, near Shrewsbury often featured. He became widely known outside of gardening circles to millions of children as the Blue Peter gardener.

Percy was also involved in a range of business ventures, including establishing the Percy Thrower Garden Centre in Shrewsbury, which is still in business today. He received many accolades for his services to gardening and was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society's highest honour, the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1977, and became an MBE in 1984. Alan Titchmarsh has also credited Percy Thrower for inspiring him to take up gardening.

In later years Percy's health declined. However, like the true professional he was, he made his last recording for Blue Peter from his hospital bed, only one week before his death on 18th March 1988. Percy's ashes are buried in the churchyard at Leaton, near Shrewsbury.

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