Madeira is sometimes called the garden island, and that is not quite an understatement. Situated in the Atlantic Ocean it is known for its mild climate and its fertile soil. Almost anything grows here and thanks to a fair amount of rain, in abundance. Throughout the centuries plants and flowers were brought onto the island and can be seen almost everywhere. Nature in itself is also incredibly beautiful, but I’ll talk more about that in another article. Now I take you to one of the beautiful gardens you can visit on the island : The Palheiro gardens.
The Count of Carvalhal bought this land on 1801 and soon started to plant quite an enormous collection of trees and Camellias. Some of these can still be admired today. Unfortunately some years ago a wildfire scorched the edge of the garden, destroying some of the old camellias. But there are still plenty left to give you an idea. In 1885 the property was sold in 1885 to the Blandy family, who still live here and take care of the property. It’s Christina Blandy that oversees the garden with a team of gardeners nowadays.
You enter the property a majestic plane tree avenue, flanked by agapanthus and camellias. A true delight to enter the garden this way. Soon you’ll find yourself at the sunken garden. This garden contains some rather particular topiary and an abundance of flowers and rare plants. Palheiro gardens is not a garden that does color themed borders, but instead packs them with different colours and species. It’s a celebration of the flower abundance you can find on an island. It also gives you the opportunity to discover many flowers and plants. Some meters aways from the sunken garden there is also a nice selection of Protea, the impressive flowers originating from South Africa.
Wandering further through the main garden you pass the old chapel and this brings you to the long border. It’s a long path towards the lady’s garden flanked by two enormous flower borders. Again full of color and texture and a delight for the senses. At the end of this path a topiary border, depicting a hen with chicks. Meandering to the plenty flower borders here brings us to the tea house and its waterlily ponds.
Going back up, don’t forget to pay a visit to the rose garden. We were still out of rose season, so it was not yet in its full glory. Also don’t forget to walk to the Ribeiro do Inferno part of the garden. This is a lush valley with tree ferns and more jungle like atmosphere. You also have beautiful views on Funchal from this point.
To walk back you take the camellia avenue to the entrance. This garden was a real pleasure to visit and when we were there also quite calm. In my next posts I will present some other Madeira gardens as well, but this one should be really on your list.