|Margaret Owen, among the old fashioned daffodils she championed in Acton Burnell churchyard.|
Margaret was a redoubtable figure in horticulture and the wider community in Shropshire, her adopted county. As her obituary in the Daily Telegraph put it, rather delicately, 'she had a flair for organising people.' The obituary is good on her horticulture, but it plays down her contributions to wider society - the campaigning on behalf of the Shrewsbury Museum, the leading of a team of seamstresses in recreating a valance for the 16th century Corbet bed, organising the flower rota in Shrewsbury Hospital and charity bridge competitions, among many other good works. It was for this community service that she was awarded the MBE in 2010.
As a gardening friend one only saw the fringes of this - for example when instructed to sign a petition to save the museum, or similar. We knew her as an indefatigable gardener, turning up all over the place, especially in the counties of the Severn valley but also regularly attending the RHS shows in London or events at Wisley. Her opinions of the RHS and some of its staff were decidedly firm, and frequently expressed at some length: eminent persons on Council were known to dread an encounter with her. This did not stop the RHS awarding her the Veitch Memorial Medal in 2012 in recognition of her contributions to horticulture, which were many.
|Margaret Owen (L), with guests at her snowdrop lunch at The Patch this February.|
Never knowingly seen without an imposing hat or bonnet on her head, Margaret was a forthright individual and fell out with people on a regular basis, though quarrels were generally made up. Friends would be invited - or summoned - to her snowdrop lunches at The Patch. Getting there, down miles of winding lanes, was always something of an expedition, but it was worthwhile for the excellent company gathered, the interest of the garden and the lunches provided by Margaret and her helpers. The lunch itself was held in a shed, known to some as the pigsty, and despite large space heaters, it was worth being well wrapped up. Seating was so tight that it was almost impossible to move, but food and drink was passed along the tables and nobody went hungry.
|Margaret making a point to Chris Sanders.|
|The last snowdrop lunch at The Patch - galanthophilic notables squashed into the shed for an excellent meal.|
|Galanthus elwesii 'Margaret Owen'|
|Margaret Owen discussing old daffodils, April 2012, with Tom Mitchell, Catherine Erskine and others.|