Lady Anne Berry

Lady Anne Sophia Berry (née Walpole, 11 December 1919) is an English and New Zealand horticulturist who founded Rosemoor Garden. She offered the garden to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1988. In 1990 she married Bob Berry and went to live on his farm at Tiniroto, Gisborne, New Zealand. She then created the Homestead Garden of Hackfalls Arboretum.


Anne was born in 1919 to the Walpole family in England. Her father was Robert Horace Walpole, the fifth and last Earl of Orford (10 July 1854 – New Zealand 27 September 1931). He married twice. His second marriage was on 15 September 1917 with Emily Gladys Oakes (then styled as Countess of Orford), daughter of Rev. Thomas Henry Royal Oakes, and the mother of Anne.[1]

One of the Walpole family members had been recorded at the siege of Acre in 1191. Later generations remained an established part of the British political, cultural and literary world. Some famous ancestors were:

  • Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745), the first Earl of Orford, who became Britain's first Prime Minister in 1721. (He made significant plantings at Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England.
  • Horace Walpole (1717–1797), the youngest son of Sir Robert, who became the fourth Earl of Orford in 1791. He also was a knowledgeable plantsman.[2]

The title passed through the generations, Anne's father becoming the last Earl in 1894. He was aged 67 when she was born. He had no son, and decided to make over the family estate of Wolterton Hall (North Norfolk) of 4,000 acres (16 km2) to a distant male cousin in 1928.[3] He emigrated to Manurewa, New Zealand, in 1928, and died in 1931.

In 1923 he had bought a 16 hectares (0.16 km2) property called Rosemoor in North Devon as a fishing lodge. Anne and her mother lived there after 1928, interspersed with three visits to NZ in the 1930s. Thus Anne spent part of her youth in New Zealand.[4] The free life in New Zealand suited her. Anne didn't go to school and had a governess, but she used to dodge her, going hunting.[5]

Back in England as a debutante proved to be a restricting time with al the social niceties including being present at Court.[6] Her mother created some of the earliest garden features at Rosemoor, such as the Stone Garden, which still lies at the heart of Lady Anne's Garden.[7] 25 November 1939 Anne married Colonel Eric Palmer. Her early married life was spent "camp following" the regiment, including two and a half years in Northern Ireland. Rosemoor was lent to the Red Cross as a rest home for Londoners from the East End suffering the effects of the Blitz. 6 March 1943 her first son John Robert was born. Anthony Eric Fletcher was born 4 November 1945. After the war her husband bought more land around Rosemoor and established a dairy farm. Anne's passion was horses in those days.

"Lady Anne's initiation into gardening was somewhat akin to the conversion of St. Paul."[8] In 1959 Anne stayed in Algeciras, Spain, for two weeks to recuperate from measles. There she met Collingwood Ingram, a well-known English plantsman, who opened her eyes to the world of plants.[9] Collingwood Ingram sent loads of plants to Rosemoor from his own garden in Benenden, Kent. This was the start of a marvellous collection. In 1960 serious development of the garden started. Soon there were other mentors like Lionel Fortescue (The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum[10]), the Heathcoat-Amory family of Knightshayes Court and others.[11]

She rapidly grew a knowledge on conditions plants needed. Travels to New Zealand and Australia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, North America and temperate South America allowed her to see plants and plant combinations growing in their natural habitats, and gave her opportunities to collect material.

In the late 1960s she joined the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Robin Herbert, who later became a president of RHS invited her to join Floral Committee 'B' which judged woody plants and new introductions. She was also a Founder Member of the National Council for the Preservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG).

In 1965 she joined the International Dendrology Society (IDS). In the 1970s she chaired the tours committee for nine years until about 1983. She then became chairperson of the Society for nearly five years. In 1970 she visited New Zealand and went to see Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Ngatapa, Gisborne. Its founder, William Douglas Cook had died a few years before. "Despite its then run-down condition it was to me a very impressive collection, at that time managed single-handedly by Bill Crooks", she remembered.[12] In 1977 a group of members of the IDS visited New Zealand again. She then nominated Eastwoodhill for the first brass plaque presented by the IDS for tree collections of outstanding merit. She then visited Abbotsford Arboretum (now Hackfalls Arboretum), the creation of Bob Berry for the first time.

In 1979 Anne started a small nursery at Rosemoor. By 1987 the catalogue expanded to over 1000 items. She developed a collection of less common trees, and of Hollies (Ilex) and Dogwood (Cornus), later resulting in Rosemoor holding part of the UK NCCPG National Collection for these plants.

In 1980 her husband died. In 1988 Anne offered Rosemoor to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS): the house and the garden (8 acres (0.032 km2)), and the remaining 32 acres (0.13 km2) of the estate, that was farmland. By 1990 Rosemoor was opened as a "garden for all seasons".

In 1990 Anne led a group of IDS members to Hackfalls Arboretum for the second time. She married Bob Berry later that same year. "The story of Bob and Anne Berry of Hackfalls is a classic one in terms of the bonds created by dendrology".[13] The marriage took place in England, but they came to live at Tiniroto.

In July 2006 Bob and Anne Berry left Hackfalls Station to live in Gisborne (town).

Rosemoor Garden

Rosemoor Garden was created by Lady Anne over a period of some thirty years, from about 1960 to 1988. She described it as "a sort of mini Wisley".[14] Wisley is the "flagship garden of the RHS".[15] In 1988 she gave the garden to the Royal Horticultural Society, together with an additional 32 acres (13 ha) of land.[16]

Christopher Bailes, curator of Rosemoor Garden, stated in 1988: "Lady Anne's garden was (and remains) a very personal garden, largely informal and relaxed in style, with extensive areas of parkland and arboretum. The 'new' RHS developments were intended both to expand upon and to complement the existing garden, featuring diverse and wide-ranging plantings, many in a more formal framework, with particular emphasis on ornamental and productive horticulture."[17]

Hackfalls Arboretum

Hackfalls Arboretum, Tiniroto, Gisborne, New Zealand, was the creation of Bob Berry, who started planting trees at his station in the 1950s, and created interesting collections of poplars, maples, oaks etc. Bob became a member of the IDS in 1977 and in October 1982 joined a tour to Mexico, which was the beginning of a particular interest in Central American Oaks (Quercus), which would later form the most important part of the collection of Hackfalls Arboretum. In later years other trips to Mexico followed to collect acorns.[18]

When Anne came to live at Hackfalls Station in 1990 the management of the farm had already been taken over by Diane and Kevin Playle (Diane is a daughter of Bob Berry's sister Pet), the name being changed from Abbotsford Station to Hackfalls Station. Hackfalls Station had been the name of the original property of the Berry family at Tiniroto, when they first came to live there at the beginning of the 20th century. The collection of the arboretum at 1990 contained about 3,000 taxa. The number of different species of trees, shrubs and climbers has been enlarged since then. Anne extended the homestead garden at Hackfalls and introduced many new plantings.[19]

In 1993 the arboretum was protected by a covenant with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.

Since 2006 Diane Playle takes care of the arboretum and the homestead garden. The collection at the arboretum in 2008 held 3,500 different taxa.

Awards and honours


  1. ^ see: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2009.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) and checked at
  2. ^ Wilkie 2008, p. 14
  3. ^ Wilkie 2008, p. 15 and Colborn 1987, p. 71
  4. ^ Hyde, Robin – Journalese (Auckland 1934) refers to Lady Anne Walpole and her mother the Countess of Orford who had special relations to Turkeys (p. 110f): [1] online available at New Zealand Electronic Text Centre (NZETC)
  5. ^ Perhaps this can be seen in the ex libris lino-cut that Miss Hilda Wiseman (Auckland) made for her. It is printed in: The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1 (1 April 1935). online available at NZETC
  6. ^ Wilkie 2008, p. 16 and Colborn 1987, p. 71/72 and see also the pictures of Bassaro (1939) with her mother at National Portrait Gallery
  7. ^ Bailes 2008, p. 35
  8. ^ Colborn 1987, p. 71
  9. ^ Wilkie 2008, p. 15
  10. ^ The Garden House
  11. ^ Colborn 1987, p. 73
  12. ^ Anne, as cited by: Berry 1997, p. 115
  13. ^ Berry 1997, p. 115
  14. ^ in Anne's own words, as cited by Colborn 1987, p. 71
  15. ^ RHS website Wisley Archived 23 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Webster 2013, pp. 46.
  17. ^ Bailes 2008, p. 36/37
  18. ^ Wilkie 2008, p. 18
  19. ^ Wilkie 2008, p. 19


  • Bailes, Christopher – Rosemoor Garden – Two Decades On (A Retrospective...). In: The Gardener's Journal, Christchurch NZ, ISSN 1178-5020, issue 3, August 2008, p. 35 – 42.
  • Berry, John – A Man's Tall Dream; The Story of Eastwoodhill. Publ. by Eastwoodhill Trust Board, Gisborne 1997. ISBN 0-473-04561-3
  • Colborn, Nigel – Lady Anne Palmer, Creator of Rosemoor. In: Hortus, Farnham, Surrey, UK, ISSN 0950-1657, Vol. One, No. 4, Winter 1987, p. 70 – 80
  • Wilkie, Martin – Bob and Lady Anne Berry, and Hackfalls Arboretum: a shared vision and a grand adventure. In: The Gardener's Journal, Christchurch NZ, ISSN 1178-5020, issue 1, February 2008, p. 13 – 22