Newnham Garden Club
- Diana Grounds -
Diana Grenfell VMM is married to Roger Grounds. Together they were the creators of Apple Court Nursery and Garden in Hampshire which they ran from 1989 until they moved to Newnham in 2003. The nursery specialised in hostas and daylilies in which Diana had been interested in since 1967; as well as ornamental grasses, ferns and a wide variety of unusual perennials.
Daylilies over the years became Apple Court’s best-selling plants. The six colour-themed daylily borders eventually became the first official American Hemerocallis Society’s Daylily Display Garden outside of North America. It became a Mecca for daylily enthusiasts from all over Europe.
Her interest in hostas first came about when she heard on Women’s Hour, the late Lady Isobel Barnett, a well-known radio and television broadcaster, extolling the virtues of hostas for shady gardens. Living close to the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley in Surrey, Diana was delighted to find that the then Director of the Garden had a similar interest in hostas and shared his plants with her and became her mentor for the genus.
For five years she was Chairman of the newly-formed Surrey Group of Plant Heritage (formerly the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens) and eventually was voted onto the national committee for publicity. She retained her involvement Plant Heritage until she finally relinquished her National Collection of Miniature and Very Small-leafed Hostas.
Her passion for Hemerocallis (daylilies) grew out of her love of hostas. In the late 1970s she led a Hosta Study Group for the Hardy Plant Society and the Group was later persuaded to include Hemerocallis, which are taxonomically related to the genus Hosta. This Group eventually became the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society in 1983 which Diana founded with a daylily enthusiast. She became its first chairman, later a Vice-President, and she still holds this office today.
Her first of many visits to the United States was in 1987 to receive the American Hosta Society’s Award of Merit which was annually awarded for outstanding service to the genus Hosta and to speak at their National Convention held at Longwood Gardens near Philadelphia. Diana and Roger took the opportunity of their three week’s visit to see as many daylily gardens as possible so as to get a better idea of which ones would be suitable for the United Kingdom’s maritime climate and its different style of gardening.
Diana has been invited to speak at gardening events in New Zealand, Ireland and several countries in Europe. For two years she was Vice-President of HemEuropa and she and Roger attended some of their Summer Weekends. In 2005 she was the recipient of the American Hemerocallis Society’s International Service Award.
The move to their much smaller garden in Newnham necessitated the reduction of daylilies from 700 to about 70 as space was at a premium and needed to allow for at least some of Roger and Diana’s eclectic collections of plants. Some of the garden is currently being re-designed to focus on a more balanced selection of shrubs and herbaceous plants suitable for a town garden.
Diana is the author of a number of books (see below) and articles for gardening journals including the Royal Horticultural Society’s journal The Garden; Gardener’s World, The English Garden and Popular Gardening.
In 2016 Diana was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Veitch Memorial Medal annually given for the recipient’s outstanding contribution to the advancement of the art, science or practice of Horticulture.
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