The Garden House Trustees
Over nearly 40 years Lionel and Katharine Fortescue created a garden which came to be viewed as one of the finest in Britain. The Fortescue Garden Trust was established by the Fortescues in 1961 with the stated objectives to provide a garden for:
- Public access and enjoyment
- Leadership in Horticultural Innovation & Excellence
- Education & Training
Today a Board of Trustees oversees The Garden House and actively seeks support to fulfil its objectives. The Trust also welcomes help from other charitable trusts and businesses.
Chair of Trustees and Buildings/Maintenance Trustee
I joined as a trustee in January 2022 and my particular focus, as a retired chartered surveyor, will be the buildings. I feel privileged to be able to support this amazing place as a trustee. I am a keen amateur gardener and live on the edge of Dartmoor near Yelverton. My interests include bee keeping and wild flowering, running and hiking on the moor and exploring various parts of the country including Spain in our campervan.
My partner (who was named after Katharine Fortescue) & I moved back to Devon from Somerset in 2015. We were already regular visitors to The Garden House as friends of the previous head gardener Matt Bishop, who developed the wonderful snowdrop collection.
Communications and Marketing Trustee
I have been a trustee at The Garden House since June 2019, with some special responsibility for marketing and communications. My day job is at Riverford, which grows and sells organic veg throughout the country. I am Devon born and bred, now based back on the farm near Totnes where I started, along with my four siblings. My mother was an avid gardener, and The Garden House was her favourite garden. Now it is mine and though I am no great shakes as a gardener, I do love working alongside the horticultural trustees, hearing what is going on, and learning the odd thing to try to apply at home. Gardens are places of such hope and optimism – if something does not quite work out this season, there is always another one coming along.
I joined The Garden House as a trustee in April 2018. I have lived in Buckland Monachorum since 1989 and am the owner and licensee of The Drake Manor. Although I originate from the Midlands, Devon is very much my home and I have spent most of my life in the south west. Although looking after the Drake keeps me busy, I am delighted to be able to be able to offer time and advice to this amazing garden. It is fantastic to work alongside such a marvellous team of staff, volunteers, and trustees. The Garden House is a truly special place to me.
I have been a trustee at the Garden House since November 2017. I am Assistant Director of Operations for the National Trust looking after our properties and major projects across Devon. I am part of the Trust’s Regional Management Team in the SW and prior to this role, I was General Manager at Cotehele – just over the border in Cornwall. I live in Tavistock with my wife and two children and I have spent most of my career in heritage management.
The Garden House for me is one of those little gems; beautiful, tranquil, peaceful, and full of exploration and discovery. A deep breath of fresh air in the garden just brings a smile to your face – happy in the knowledge that you are in a truly magical garden created and developed by a team at the top of their discipline. My view is that everyone should get a chance to feel that, whether you are a plantsman or not, and everyone should get the chance to see the beauty that The Garden House offers.
I am Director of Horticulture, Education & Communities at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and joined as a Trustee in August 2018, continuing the long-standing association with the RHS.
My remit with the RHS includes working with the Curators at our Gardens and whilst I am based at RHS Wisley I look to combine my visits to RHS Rosemoor with those as a Trustee at The Garden House and work particularly closely with Nick on the garden side. The RHS Partner Gardens scheme is run from within my team, and we are delighted that The Garden House continues to be a member. My interest in plants is very wide ranging including those from Oceanic Islands and the Mediterranean. Although distance means visits are infrequent, Devon is still very familiar to me with family coming from the South Hams and Teignmouth area and the drive down over Dartmoor is something I always look forward to.
Communications / Horticulture Trustee
I joined The Garden House as a trustee in February 2021. I became besotted with plants and gardens in my teens, and as I’m from Devon, it was inevitable that The Garden House would be one of the first and regular pilgrimages to satisfy my horticultural itch and I continually visited to see the work Keith, Matt and now Nick have done on such a special garden, and have retained my membership of the garden for nearly two decades.
My gardening career National Trust at Antony House, near Torpoint, and from there I was accepted to study and work at RBG Kew. After my time at Kew, I joined the RHS as the Show Manager firstly for Hampton Court Flower Show and then Chelsea Flower Show – commissioning and managing exhibits, gardens, and the floral marquee. However, the pull back to my native Devon was too great and so started my current employment as Head Gardener of a 12-acre private estate, ‘Stonelands’. I sit on the Trustee board for the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, am a member of the RHS Tender Plant Committee, a British Orchid Council judge and present a regular gardening podcast called Talking Heads with fellow Head Gardener Lucy Chamberlain.
Human Resources Trustee
I joined as a Trustee in July 2021, eager to make a difference in the post pandemic era when the outdoors generally and gardens specifically have been such a source of comfort and inspiration for many. At the same time this period has of course presented challenges as well as opportunities for The Garden House. My entire career has been in Human Resources leading people, strategies and initiatives at national, regional and global levels for large multinationals such as Marks and Spencer, Toshiba, Wrigley and Mars. Over very many years the loyal staff, volunteers and trustees have worked hard to ensure the legacy of The Garden House lives on. I hope in turn to bring my experience of people management, coaching and mentoring and of developing great places to work and grow, to this Trustee role helping both the Trustee board and staff alike.