ONE of the country's greatest gardeners has spoken of the fond memories he has of Oswestry and Shropshire.

Celebrity gardener and dad-of-three, Chris Beardshaw, shared his love for the town with the Advertizer, as he visited The Marches School last week for a long-awaited talk with the Weston Rhyn and District Gardening Club.

The event came almost three years after the extremely-busy garden designer was asked to share his expertise and passion for all things horticultural with the club.

"I know Oswestry well, I grew up in Worcestershire and my parents favourite holiday location when we were kids was the north coast of Wales, so we used to drive through and stop off there on the way," said Chris.

"We would arrive in the evening and go for a hot supper somewhere and Oswestry was kind of mid way so we would always stop here and then continue on our journey.

"Shropshire is fabulous, it's a really lovely county – I've just driven past the park actually [Cae Glas Park], it's great.

"Those sorts of pocket parks, where they capture the spirit of the way that the Victorians used to do planting and 'carpet bedding', I think are just incredible.

"It's just a real blast of colour and you can't fail to be impressed as you go by – it's those things that cheers everyone up.

"In terms of stamping the town with an identity and the positivity it brings, I think it's great.

"It's just a great region, whether it's horticulture or agriculture."

Aside from Shropshire, the BBC Radio 4 Gardeners' Question Time presenter's love of gardening has taken him to places all over the world, designing outdoor spaces for some of the world's most influential people – from Michelin-starred chefs to royalty.

But despite the often 'rich and famous' commissions, Chris still finds every job he undertakes, special.

"I design gardens which can be anything from 80 acre estates to 20m by 10m town gardens," Chris added.

"They’re very varied and everywhere is very different.

"My office is in the UK but we go abroad for certain projects – I did a project for the queen of Bahrain once.

"I was over at Raymond Blanc's garden the other day too.

"Gardening is a universal language and I think each project is very different and each one is special... it's as special as the person who is initiating it really.

"Whether you’re working for someone who has a lifetime vision of creating a garden or whether you’re working for the rich and famous, it comes down to personality."

And the gardener – who has worked at prestigious events such as the Chelsea Flower Show – also spoke of the importance of being outdoors and the positive effects it has on people, both physically and mentally.

"Gardeners know the effects that gardens have on us emotionally, physically and spiritually and that's why we create these spaces – we all learn best outside," Chris said.

"Our behaviour changes, our optimism is increased and crime rates drop. All these sorts of triggers are lessened and the positives increase.

"Anyone who grew up with a grandparent who was a gardener will know that there are elements of what happened in their gardens, and the things that they showed you that direct you for the rest of your life.

"My grandmother bought me a watering can and a packet of seeds for my fourth birthday – I knew instantly that I wanted to be a gardener. And from then on I never wanted to do anything else."

Chris' attendance was welcomed by members of the gardening club, and chairman, Ann Sadler, was delighted to be able to bring such a 'famous name in the gardening industry to Oswestry'.

"We've done this for all our members and for the community and surrounding areas," she said.

"Sue Davies, our programme organiser contacted Chris years ago so this event has been three years in-the-making."

And Sue added: "We wanted to bring some high profile speakers to generate more members and to highlight what we as a club get involved in.

"We've been waiting for Chris to speak to the group for a long time about where he gets his inspiration from, with the aim of inspiring members to look at gardening from a different perspective.

"We're so lucky to get Chris to come and speak to us. I'm very excited."