|The Garden House has eight acres of naturalistic planting at the edge of Dartmoor|
Tucked away down winding country lanes in a village called Buckland Monachorum, it was created by a passionate plantsman more than 60 years ago. Successive head gardeners have considerably enhanced the eight-acre property and added their own stamp over the years, particularly Keith Wiley, who spent quarter of a century here adding to the backbone of the garden created by the owner.
The story here began in 1945 when a former Eton schoolmaster - Lionel Fortescue - moved to the 1920s vicarage that forms the central focus of much of the garden and began planting a walled garden around the ruins of a former 16th century vicarage in the lowest section of the landscape. Fortescue was the son of a Newlyn school painter and he clearly had a good eye for colour. He also liked innovative planting schemes and during the period that Keith Wiley worked with him, they created a series of inspirational vistas, with views to the village church and Dartmoor beyond.
Fortescue was also a passionate plant collector who travelled far and wide to find good specimens. Today The Garden House has an excellent collection of azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias for spring colour and acers that come into their own in the autumn. The emphasis here is on naturalistic planting, which is considerably enhanced by the stunning views over the horizon and the theatrical elements of the ruins within.
|The lower sections of the garden are woven around the ruins of a 16th-century abbey|
Fortescue worked closely for 25 years with head gardener, Keith Wiley, to create the spectacular walled garden that is such a prominent feature here. And although the former schoolteacher died in 1981, Wiley continued as head gardener until 2003, when he was succeeded by Matt Bishop. Keith has now moved on and created his own magnificent garden and nursery at neighbouring Wildside - elsewhere in the village. Definitely one for the wishlist and open during high summer (click on link for details).
The Garden House is open from the beginning of March until the end of October daily, from 10.30-17.00. Admission is £6.60 for adults and £2.70 for children, and annual membership costs just £28, which also admits you to another of my favourite Devon gardens - Coleton Fishacre - and Trebah in Cornwall - well worth the money if you're lucky enough to spend time in the West Country.
|The Garden House has something to offer throughout the seasons - seen here in October|