The Garden House
The Garden House – Buckland Monachorum
The Garden House is one of West Devon’s hidden gems. Five miles south of the picturesque market town of Tavistock (voted Britain’s best market town) and just over a mile from Yelverton and the A386, this haven of tranquillity nestles in a quiet valley running down to the River Tavy.
The Garden House began 60 years ago when Lionel Fortescue, a former schoolmaster at Eton, came here. Lionel’s passion had always been horticulture and at The Garden House he found the differing soil types that allowed him to grow a huge variety of plants. The son of a noted artist of the Newlyn School, Lionel had inherited his father’s eye for colour and form and he set about a vigorous planting regime that is still continued in his exacting style.
The heart of The Garden House remains the two-acre Walled Garden, constructed on four terraces around the enchanting ruins of Buckland’s romantic medieval vicarage. When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, the last Abbot of Buckland Abbey, which lies less than a mile away, became the vicar of Buckland Monachorum. The fifteenth-century church features in one of the garden’s most stunning views and is linked to it by a splendid avenue of lime trees and an ancient footpath.
Lionel and his wife Katharine created the Fortescue Garden Trust, an independent charity, to ensure the survival of this beautiful place for generations to come. The Garden House continued to develop under Keith Wiley, who began an expansion programme that transformed a further six acres of paddock into the world-famous garden you see today, and under Matt Bishop, the current Head Gardener, renowned for his expertise on snowdrops and other bulbs. Matt runs his popular Snowdrop Walks in January and February.
There is something for everyone in the long season of ever-changing splendour at The Garden House: enchanting woodland plants in the spring, wisteria bridges and archways festooned in purple; a sea of native plants in the Cottage Garden; dazzling summer colours in the South African Garden, and acers of every hue in the autumn. A Children’s Trail provides fun for all the family. The tempting tearooms offer a delicious range of home-cooked, waitress-served lunches, cakes and, of course, Devon cream teas. There is a plant sales centre and ample parking. Introductory talks and garden tours can be arranged for groups. Tel: 01822 854769 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.