CELEBRITY gardener Roy Lancaster returned to his home roots to share his passion.

Mr Lancaster, a regular panellist of Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time, and has appeared on Gardeners' World, was back in his home town to launch his book, My Life with Plants at the central library.

He wowed a 100-strong audience with pictures of his garden, and spoke about how his career had taken him all over the world as well as the pleasures that gardening can bring — and the importance of plants to mankind.

Mr Lancaster said: "I'm very happy to be back in Bolton, even though it's raining, it's home from home.

"I have been looking forward to it. I haven't been to Bolton for several years.

"It's wonderful. I have met friends and a cousin who I have not seen since I was a child."

In the book, Mr Lancaster talks about growing up in Bolton, his schooldays and the wonders he has seen.

He added: "The book is aimed at fellow gardeners, plant lovers and nature lovers and people who respect the environment and want to protect it and there are stories in there.”

The celebrated plantsman made his name in horticultural circles as a schoolboy when he found Mexican tobacco plant in a local allotment, it was only the second recorded occurrence of the plant in the wild in the British Isles.

Mr Lancaster said: "I can't go anywhere, whatever the purpose, family holidays as well, without at least being aware of plants, whether they are in the gardens or in the wild. There are always plants of some kind which catch my eye and brings me great pleasure to be with plants, especially trees in woods."

While living in Bolton he recalls it being the Chrysanthemum 'capital of the world' with shows held in the Albert Halls, and how it would be decorated with the prized flowers for music recitals by acclaimed musicians.

Mr Lancaster said his line of work may not have been the best paid, but its importance cannot be underestimated.

He said: "I would like to think people would go away and if they haven't already thought about this they would seriously consider what we are doing to our green planet, the green leaf that is the source of energy of oxygen.

"Without it we are gone, we are dead. If we can educate people if they haven’t really thought about it, we can make them think about it. But if they know about it or are aware of it or know about it and don’t give a damn, we have serious problems.

"My garden is like a Noah’s Ark with plants from all around the world all growing, they bring me peace, bring me pleasure, they bring in and maintain a wonderful population of insects, butterflies and birds of course. They bring pleasure to a much wider population than me and my family and my neighbours.

“When I walk up the road outside my house I am aware of the trash that has been thrown around by people and I’m thinking 'that’s what we are up against in our fight to make people aware of what they are doing, and how they are trashing our environment'."

He added: "Gardening is one of the most sharing of all pastimes and hobbies, it is no accident that garden people are by and large are the happiest, the friendliest and most sharing of people in our communities. And what better way to share something that has given you pleasure, by giving plants away to friends.

"Gardens bring pleasure, they bring peace and in my garden when I want to be alone, what better place than a garden?

"I can sit in my garden and clear my head of what needs to be done, but just to be observant and listen to what is going on in my garden, the insects visiting and the movement of plants as they are blown in the breeze.

“For us it is has been a place to bring a family up into, it has been a place for children, for them to share and be aware of the touch of leaves, the smell of flowers the buzz of the bees, the song of the bird."

nWe have a signed copy of Roy Lancaster's RHS credited book to give away. We will give it as a prize to the reader who sends us their best horticultural themed pictures by October 9. Email them to lisa.schofield@nqnw.co.uk or post them to Lisa Schofield, The Wellsprings, Civic Centre, Bolton, BL1 1AR.