29-04-1912 ~ 20-04-2000
Clifford George Grosvenor was born on 29th April, 1912 at Longhope, Gloucestershire, England, the first of six children to George & Georgina Grosvenor. He spent his early years on their farm and attended the local school until the age of 13 years. He obtained his first orchid at aged 14 years.
He left home in his teens together with his brother John and they both joined the Royal Navy, where he remained for 13 years attaining the rank of Petty Officer. He did extensive service in the Middle East and also on convoy duty on destroyers in the North Atlantic during the Second World War. He sustained serious leg injuries which confined him for months at Portsmouth Naval Hospital and which affected his mobility for the rest of his life.
He married Henrietta (Betty) Eaton on 21st September, 1943 and they had four children, Jean (1945), Dorothy (1950), Jennifer (1951) and Susan (1958). Following Naval Service, he began working as a gardener and worked on various large estates in England until 1960, the last being that of Lord and Lady Ashton of Hyde, at Stow on the Wold in the Cotswolds. Lady Marjorie Ashton was the Godmother of Susan and kept in touch until her death.
During the years 1953-1960 as a member of the Alpine Garden Society, he contributed several articles to their Quarterly Bulletin. He retained his interest in alpine plants in Australia, growing as many as he could in his garden at Broadmeadows, and remaining a Member of the Society and subscribing to their bulletins until his death.
Following the family’s arrival in Australia on St. Patricks Day 1960, he began working at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, where he remained until retirement in 1978. He began as an ordinary gardener and later became a supervisor in charge of the Quarantine Area and the Greenhouses, including the orchids, and the Director’s private garden.
Following his retirement the then Director, Dr David Churchill, seconded him to the advisory committee that was supervising the replanting of the Rose Garden at Werribee Park Mansion, in accordance with the old species of roses which would have been used in the original. As a delegate to the Public Service Association, he worked towards the appointment of the first female apprentice to be accepted into the Botanic Gardens, and assisted in her training.
Once he had his own garden at 4 Nyah Court, he concentrated on growing alpine plants, cacti & succulents and orchids – mainly those he saw were in danger of extinction, his stated objective to keep them alive for as long as was possible. He imported many seeds from England, Europe and Japan in order to do this, and corresponded with nurserymen in many overseas countries to this end.
He was always ready to assist any person in any aspect of gardening and was extremely knowledgeable on all aspects of the plant and animal world.
In addition to the Alpine Garden Society, he was a Member of the Maribyrnong and Warringal Orchid Clubs, the Orchid Species Society of Victoria Inc., The Australian Orchid Foundation, the Thirty-Niners (a group of ex-servicemen who were in the services at the commencement of WW2) and joined the Glenroy RSL in 1965. He was also a founding Member of the Broadmeadows and District Garden Club of which he was made a Life Member, and a founding member of the Broadmeadows Senior Citizens Club and gave extensive assistance to the planning of the garden area at their clubrooms.
He was also on the Vestry Committee and Building Committee of his local Parish Church, St Mary Magdalene’s Anglican Church, Dallas, which he attended from its beginning in a room of the local primary school until ill health forced him to remain at home.
Cliff passed away in the Northern Hospital, Epping, on 20th April, 2000 after several years of ill health that he bore with his customary fortitude. Following a service at St Mary Magdalene’s on 24th April, he was cremated. His ashes were later buried in a private family service in the Memorial Garden at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, which I am sure he would have approved of had he been consulted.
Tribute by Dorothy Fortune
A donation has been made to the Australian Orchid Trust Fund by the Directors of The Australian Orchid Foundation.