Sunday, January 27, 2013

Percy Thrower - Centenary of an Inspiration

Today's Telegraph has a nice article on someone who had an influence on my life - Percy Thrower, who was born 100 yrs ago. Alan Titchmarsh reckons Percy Thrower inspired him to take up gardening (for the great benefit of all) and I used to watch Gardening World avidly when he was presenting it. Apart from Titchmarsh himself, Percy Thrower was the best gardening presenter of them all - though I do think Monty Don is quite good as well. In part that's because he was first and foremost a gardener, who turned out to be a good presenter as well. He was a big celebrity of his time. We also liked Arthur Billett, who lived at Clack's Farm in Worcs. who for a while did a double act with Percy Thrower.

I had no interest in gardening at all until I married my wife who had a love for growing things. She had grown a few seeds since infanthood. Anyway, I was required to dig over a patch here, and dig a trench there. Soon my obsessive streak took over. Began reading gardening mags, watching TV programmes and visiting gardens - including The Magnolias, Percy Throwers home just outside Shrewsbury. I ordered chrysanths from Woolman's of Shirley and onions from Robinsons of Preston (I think) as recommended by Percy Thrower, and began competing in horticultural shows - including Shrewsbury Flower Show, which was held in the parks where Percy Thrower was head gardener. I remember spending 5 hrs overnight building an arrangement in the pedestal competition. Not many rugby playing farmers doubled up as flower arrangers.

Anyway its Percy Thrower's centenary this week and this post is my way of remembering him, and his fuchsias, and his lithospermum Heavenly Blue, plants he was very keen on. With a business partner he bought Murrell's nurseries (of Hilda Murrell fame) in Shrewsbury and developed the successful Percy Thrower Garden Centre. Its off the old Shrewsbury by-pass and nothing like as handy to get to as the larger Dobbies on the new by-pass. I prefer it though. Percy Thrower died in 1988