About the garden
Fortescue Garden Trust
This glorious garden nestles in a quiet valley on the fringe of Dartmoor National Park. It has been continually developed since the mid-1940s, when Lionel Fortescue, the son of one of Cornwall's Newlyn painters, began overhauling the two-acre walled garden of his new home. He then turned his attention to neighbouring fields and created an inspiring, colourful garden that opened to the public more than 62 years ago.
Lionel's inspirational approach included a ruthless attention to detail and colour, and zero tolerance for plants that were not performing well. This attention to detail continues today, where the swathes of naturalistic planting and informal, gentle designs are in fact gardened as massive 'deconstructed' herbaceous borders. The effect is breathtaking, as are the borrowed views over Devon hills. The pastoral view through the Cottage Garden in late spring over to the church tower of neighbouring Buckland Monachorum has become an iconic shot for photographers. In the autumn, the acer glade sets the same view alight in reds, purples and golds.
There are five terraces in the walled garden that began Lionel's garden. They include formally planted areas, including a tennis court, camellia walk and a lower terrace of stunning long borders that are at their peak in summer and into early autumn. The lower terrace snakes around medieval ruins, including a thatched barn and stone tower. The garden has a worldwide reputation as a plantsman's garden, and the friendly team help visitors identify interesting plants.
Each year hybrids pop up that are throwbacks to Lionel's originals. This isn't a garden stuck in time though. It has been successively developed by head gardeners who have all made their mark on the planting and accessibility. It remains a garden at the forefront of 'new' naturalism. If you visit Devon, this a garden that shouldn't be missed.