Monday, February 28, 2011

Madeira Series: Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

Whilst in Madeira one garden caught our attention so much we visited twice in the week. As promised here are a selection of photos from our visit to Monte Palace Tropical Gardens

In the 18th century the English Consul Charles Murray, bought a property south of the church in "Monte" to the north of Funchal, then called "Quinta do Prazer" (The Pleasure Estate). At the turn of the century the property changed hands again when in 1897, Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues purchased the estate and built a palatial property which was later converted into the "Monte Palace Hotel".

After Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues died in 1947 and the hotel closed, forty years later the hotel and gardens was purchased by entrepreneur José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo, who donated it to a charitable Foundation he had founded to create what is now Monte Palace Tropical Garden.

The two visits couldn't have been more different, the first was in glorious sunshine, the second was in very atmospheric mist and light rains.

On entering the garden there is a museum of modern African art, whilst this is reasonably interesting in itself, the museum balconies give a spectacular overhead view of a pool surrounded by Yucca elphantipes and Cyathea cooperi.

As you pass down though the garden the next section follows a stream through an oriental styled landscape complete with stone lanterns and large stone buddhas. There is a new building project underway in this area, with the slope above having been cleared from trees. This may have been connected with the landslides the island was affected by last year.

Further down the hill side the garden gets wider, there is a spectacular collection of cycads, with many huge old examples of rare and unusual specimens.


One of our favourite sections of the garden is beyond the former hotel building with a long narrow Chinese/Japanese style garden featuring a series of koi ponds and more oriental statues.


We hope you have enjoyed this photologue from Monte as much as we enjoyed visiting. This garden is truly one of the best in the world.


  1. Dear Mark and Gaz, I can see absolutely why this garden entranced you so much. Such drama, such spectacular plants, such atmosphere and such attantion to quality and detail. As you say, a gem!!

  2. Wow, that looks like a truly magnificent garden. I'd love to have seen the cycads and all the other exotic plantings. Thank you for sharing your impressions and photos.

    Bamboo and More

  3. I have always wanted to visit Madeira, and even more so now! Wonderful photos, and what a garden! By the way thanks for tips re. my front garden - I might chance an agave, although the temperature does dip below freezing at times so it could be a gamble. Perhaps a bigger specimen would stand more chance?

  4. Thanks for sharing this wonderful garden. I like the steps and pathway and have the urge to explore where they lead to... :) The plants are similar to what we see here. I like the way they put them together creating an inviting yet mysterious look.

  5. i love all the bright red! so dramatic. lucky you guys to visit! thanks for sharing the tour!

  6. I've been watching out for your post on the Monte Palace garden since you gave us a glimpse a while back. What a beautiful garden. Thanks for showing more of it. The cycads are magnificent.

  7. It is an absolute gem indeed Edith! Sometimes I think that it's worth going to Madeira just to see this garden alone :)

    Gerhard, the cycad collection is truly impressive, lots of very rare cycads thriving and coning away happily. I wouldn't be surprised if they have the most extensive cycad collection growing outside in Europe, so many huge and old specimens too.

    Martin, it's definitely worth considering visiting Madeira soon, especially for a plant lover. Occasional dip below freezing temps wouldn't be a problem, just depending which Agave you choose. The bigger the specimen you can get hold nof the better. Agave montana is one of the hardier ones :)

  8. One, the steps and the pathway were indeed laid out in order to encourage exploration, and there's so much to see. Mysterious, atmospheric, and stunning are the words that come to mind.

    Janine, I love that shade of red!

    Missy, it's a pleasure to share these photos. Hopefully one day you'll be able to visit Monte too :)

  9. Fantastic! I loved the exotic look of all the cycads and ferns, the meandering paths, the koi ponds...and I loved the sound of the waterfall! Thanks for including the video. I imagine this garden got your creative gardening juices to flowing!

  10. Thanks Debs! It was and still is a major source of inspiration for our garden :)

  11. Spectacular cones, love the cycads. Not so sure about the large gnome with a broom though... What a wonderful place to walk around, no wonder you went twice.

  12. Wonderful pictures! I really like those cycads especially.

  13. Hi Janet, love those Cycads too! At least the 'gnome' has decided to help rather than just stand there :)

    Thank you for visiting Owen, glad you liked them :)


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