The benefactor who made it possible for RHS Garden Rosemoor in Torrington to be open to the public has died aged 99.

Lady Anne Berry unveiling the plaque after she donated Rosemoor to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1988. Picture: RHSLady Anne Berry unveiling the plaque after she donated Rosemoor to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1988. Picture: RHS

Lady Anne Berry (née Palmer) donated Rosemoor House, garden and around 32 acres of land to the Royal Horticultural Society in 1988.

A keen gardener, she collected seeds and plants from all over the world to create the amazing garden and arboretum at Rosemoor.

RHS Rosemoor opened to the public in 1990 and Lady Anne kept up to date with all developments at the garden.

She died on September 18 and her obituary in The Times describes her as a 'cigar-smoking horticulturist and founder of Rosemoor Gardens who developed one of the finest plant collections in the country'.

Rosemoor Gardens founder Lady Anne Berry. Picture: contributedRosemoor Gardens founder Lady Anne Berry. Picture: contributed

Jon Webster, the curator at RHS Garden Rosemoor, said: "We celebrate our 30th anniversary next year, and it is sad to think that Lady Anne will not be joining us.

"Without her amazing generosity and skill as a renowned plantswoman RHS Garden Rosemoor would not exist. We are incredibly grateful to her for her foresight and vision in giving her treasured garden to the RHS."

Lady Anne was born in 1919. Her father was the fifth (and last) Earl of Orford, Robert Horace Walpole.

In 1923, her father bought Rosemoor, originally part of the Rolle estate, as a salmon fishing lodge.

In the 1930s, the Stone Garden was created by Lady Anne's mother using various artefacts from antique shops in Bideford.

Lady Anne lived with her mother at Rosemoor until the war when the house was used by the Red Cross as a refuge from the bombing for evacuees from London's Docklands and East End. In 1939, she married Colonel Eric Palmer, who died in 1980, and her early married life was spent 'camp following'.

Lady Anne returned in 1945 with her family and for a number of years ran the estate as a dairy farm.

In 1959, Lady Anne stayed in Spain to recuperate from measles and met Collingwood 'Cherry' Ingram of Benenden in Kent, who introduced her to the joys of gardening and helped her to start a plant collection at Rosemoor.

She moved to New Zealand in the 1990s, but Rosemoor curator Mr Webster said: "I will miss receiving Lady Anne's regular emails in which we chatted about certain plants within her garden. She had a very good memory as to where things were planted and the stories behind them, and was always keen to know how they were thriving or in some cases, sadly not.

"She was always wanted to know about our successes in winning tourism awards or attracting visitors, and was proud that the garden she started was being loved and enjoyed by so many like-minded people."