Known to friends as Squeak, Lady Maclehose made a lasting impression on Roy Lancaster in 1981 when, as the wife of the Governor of Hong Kong, she assisted Lancaster and his fellow plant hunters who had been plant hunting in China.
After the MacLehoses returned to Scotland, at a meeting at Wisley, Lancaster suggested she set up branches of the newly established NCCPG (now Plant Heritage) in Scotland. Squeak was delighted with the idea. She loved a project and, with her many connections, Squeak established the Ayrshire and Arran Group in 1983 becoming the first chairperson. She initiated the idea of a yearly plant sale, group outings and a quarterly newsletter, and helped establish a further five groups throughout Scotland.
In her retirement she had a number of interests but her daughter Sylvia noted 'her real interest was plant heritage and she was awarded the Queen Mother’s medal in horticulture in 2004.'
In 1983 as the first chairperson of the Ayrshire & Arran group she initiated the idea of a yearly plant sale, group outings and a quarterly newsletter. Squeak also developed the garden at her home at Beoch with Rhododendron and Azalea, organised plant hunting visits to places including Chile, South Africa and Irian Jaya, and maintained her interest in cooking, horses and beagles. She was a loyal friend and, supported by her husband Murray, was always helpful and happy to share her extensive knowledge. By the time she stepped back from active leadership, Ayrshire & Arran was the one of the largest and most financially successful in the UK and this legacy continues.
Her knowledge of plants, particularly the Far Eastern specimens that Victorian collectors had brought back to Scotland, earned her the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother Medal in Horticulture in 2004.
Although Lady MacLehose stopped attending events in her Eighties, she remained honorary chairman until her death aged 99 in February 2020.