March 29th 1935 – March 19th 2021
What I said at her service today:
The irony is not lost on me that the very first person I would turn to, when asked to do something like this, would be Diana… She would know exactly the right and proper thing to say, the correct tone, the certain order of things, what needed to be said and done. Apologies in advance Mum, we will just have to rely on how well you trained me, I can try, but cannot possibly hope to do your memory justice.
There are so many versions of a life, some intersecting and some separate, we all carry our own deeply precious, individual memories of Diana: She was a big sister, a wife, a mother, auntie, granny, great granny, but also friend, confidant, colleague, author, lecturer. We have memories to treasure. A potted history seems impossible.
When I was little I would so proudly boast to friends, that my Mum was a world expert in hostas, although I’m not sure I had inherited quite her passion for the genus; very rarely, when left in charge of the wonderful Apple Court Nursery, customers would ask what I could tell them about a certain plant for sale, I could tell them it was £3.50 but little more. But looking around the garden, even to my untrained eye I could see the results of Diana’s passion, her eye for detail, and breadth of expertise. Glorious is the word that springs to mind.
Along with Roger, Diana brought such beauty into the world, sublime collections, riots of colour, oasis of calm. It is no surprise that one of her proudest moments was receiving the Veitch Memorial Medal (from the Royal Horticultural Society awarded to “persons of any nationality who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement and improvement of the science and practice of horticulture).
Whilst busy growing hostas and day lilies, she was also hard at work nurturing a love of gardening in so many others, quietly encouraging, offering advice, support and enthusiasm. Passion is infectious, and Diana was a super-spreader.
If Diana’s exquisite taste was on show for all to see outside, a lucky few got to see indoors, She was a natural home-maker, with a love of all things Georgian. She couldn’t help but make a house feel like a home, although reality couldn’t always match her ambition; Claudia and myself teased her terribly for ‘The Gymnasium’ or the box room containing a solitary exercise bike….
For all her professional achievements, her passion, her taste; they are nothing without her kindness and nothing without her love. Few things in life are certain, but Diana’s capacity for love was undeniable; coupled with the strongest of faiths, we were lucky to have shared in it.
Perhaps Diana would be embarrassed to be so praised, for no life can be lived without fault or imperfection, but towards the end, when I told her how her house was filled with cards and flowers from well wishers and family, she smiled deeply and knew that she was loved. May we all be so fortunate. Love you Mum x