The summer house which overlooks The Ovals Garden is on The Bowling Green Terrace, so named for its original purpose. We have surviving letters from Sir Francis Drakes’ sister when she lived in the original vicarage here and consequently we like to think that Drake (who lived at the nearby Buckland Abbey – well worth a visit) may have had a practice for his game on Plymouth Hoe before he took on the Spanish Armada.
The Terrace today is home to a number of Rhododendron hybrids, several of Fortescue’s raising, their parentage variously involving, R. ‘Hawk’, R. wardii and R. campylocarpum. There are also fine specimens of the scarlet ‘Tally-Ho’ and perfectly formed butter yellow R. ’Hotei’.
On the other side of the path stands a magnificent Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’, an example of careful pruning to enhance its aged appearance – like a large Bonsai.
At the far end are a number of the arrestingly blue R. augustinii, one of Fortescue’s great favourites and collected by him in its variable shades. You leave the terrace climbing The Prospect to the right (known also as Tom’s Steps after Tom Hooper who worked in the garden for over 50 years!