Wonderful garden to visit whatever the season. Beautiful early autumnal colours in the Acer garden and full of floral colour in the walled garden today in mid September. Well worth a visit
Jan Davies, Google Review
Tickets can be purchased at Visitor Reception on arrival.
- Adult (+16yrs) £16.50 with Gift Aid. (£15.00 – Standard)
- Child (+6yrs) £8.25 with Gift aid. (£7.50 – Standard)
- Child (0-5) Free
- Members – Free entry during all published opening times. Also includes free garden entry for up to 3 children/grandchildren (under 16)
- Carers – Free admission when accompanying a visitor
If you’d like to become a valued Friend (Member) of The Garden House, then please visit our Memberships page for online sales of membership. (Join for just £40.00 per person/per year – Direct Debit).
RHS member 1:
Free admission on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1st November to 31st March. (Please note, this does not apply between April 1st and October 31st). RHS Members must bring their membership cards to gain entry.
Winter Opening Times – 12th January 2024 to 31st March 2024 10.30am till 3.30pm
Cafe is open to all 10.30am to 3.30pm
Summer Opening Times – From 1st April 2024 to 31st October 2024
Our cafe is also open during our opening times (10.30am to 4.00pm) but garden admission applies (see admission prices)
Friends/Members can visit the cafe for FREE
Fortescue Garden Trust
The house and gardens that form The Garden House were bought in the 1940s by Lionel and Katharine Fortescue. Over the next 40 years the Fortescues created a garden which was – and continues to be – viewed as one of the finest in Britain.
By 1961 they had established the Fortescue Garden Trust, an independent registered charity, to which they bequeathed the house and garden to ensure the survival of this beautiful place for future generations. After their deaths in the 1980s ownership passed to the charity, which maintains the Fortescues’ lovely legacy.
Today, a board of Trustees oversees The Garden House and actively seeks support to fulfil its objectives.
History of The Garden House
The Garden House is the elegant former home of the vicars of Buckland Monachorum. built in the early 19th century, the house accommodates the tearooms and offices.
The history of this 10-acre garden is closely entwined with that of Buckland Abbey and the local church. In 1305 the Bishop instructed the Abbot to build a house for the parish priest and this site was chosen. At the dissolution of the monasteries, the Abbot became the vicar of Buckland Monachorum and by the early 1700s, the vicarage consisted of a substantial 3-storey dwelling. The remains of this building, a tower with spiral staircase and a thatched barn, formerly the kitchen, are now the romantic ruins on the lower terrace in the walled garden.
A modern vicarage was built in the 1920s and The Garden House was sold as a private dwelling. The house came onto the market again just after the Second World War and was purchased by Lionel Fortescue, a retiring master at Eton, and his wife Katharine.
Lionel was the son of a Newlyn school painter and had a good eye for colour as well as being an exacting plantsman. Lionel and Katharine set about renovating and developing their garden whilst running a thriving market garden business, providing stock plants for growers in the Tamar Valley, and managing a herd of Jersey dairy cattle.
Lionel appointed a head gardener, Keith Wiley, who was to spend 25 years shaping the garden and enlarging it by 6 acres, before he left in 2003 to create a new nursery, Wildside Plants.
Matt Bishop took on the role and a delightful legacy of his is the number and variety of snowdrops and bulbs. Matt left The Garden House in autumn 2012 to set up his own business ‘Matt Bishop Snowdrops’.
Head Gardener – Nick Haworth
Nick was previously Head Gardener at the National Trust property, “Greenway” the Devon home of Agatha Christie. Nick has been responsible for the garden since 2013. His role is to care for and respect the legacies of his predecessors whilst ensuring that The Garden House remains a crucible of new ideas and new plants. He has undertaken a major refurbishment of the original Fortescue garden as well as ongoing maintenance in other areas to ensure a long opening season of glorious colour and variety. Nick has two horticultural students under training here and a small team of dedicated staff and volunteers.
The Fortescue Garden Trust continues Lionel Fortescue’s commitment to horticultural excellence and education, particularly for young people. The Garden House works in partnership with the Professional Gardeners Guild and their three year Guild Diploma, during which students spend one year in each of three different gardens.
The student programme is funded by a benefactor of The Garden House, Mrs Dorothy Harris, who established the William & Helena Heath Scholarship in the name of her parents.
This fund provides for the employment and annual placement of two students, who join the gardening team to work and train in the garden.
Areas of the Garden
Summer Garden: The start of the Long Walk and a highlight all year round but particularly during summer months. Herbaceous perennial planting interspersed with numerous varieties of grasses with a strong backdrop of flowering shrubs and trees.
Cottage Garden: Naturalist planting of summer flowers surround the ruined walls of an old cottage and lead into the Wild Flower Meadow. A beautiful place to sit, listen to the gentle hum of bees and take in the view!
Long Walk: The Long walk stetches away from the house and main lawns and takes you through the Summer Garden, The Dell and The Cottage Garden up to the stone circle and our famous Betula ermanii “Grayswood Hill’ tree.
Betula ermanii ‘Grayswood Hill’ and ‘Fly Agaric’ toadstools.
The Walled Garden: A huge seasonal highlight at The Garden House. The 2-acre walled garden set around the remnants of a 16th century vicarage. Most of the flowering in the walled garden comes between July and late September, with a huge variety of Dahlias, set amongst herbaceous perennials, becoming the stars of the show!
The Old Tennis Court: The old tennis court, within the walled area of the old vicarage, has now shrunk in size giving way to large flower borders and a garden ‘room’ filled with colour, peace and tranquillity.
Jubilee Arboretum: The Jubilee Arboretum was officially opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex in 2013 and contains over a hundred specimen trees, all carefully selected and many of them recent introductions from temperate zones of the world.
Acer Glade: Magnificent in the autumn months with its ‘New England’ colours but also in March with its carpet of Crocus and again in April/May with its young leaf colour, Azaleas and Rhododendrons.