Friday, February 11, 2011

A break in Madeira

Mark and I have just spent a very relaxing week on the Portuguese Island of Madeira. Famed for its gardens, Madeira is blessed with a lovely year round spring like climate. Temperatures have been about 16°C (61°F) or so for the whole week and plenty of sunshine, which was a welcome change from the cold, wet, and windy weather back home.

Madeira was discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1419, and the first settlers began colonizing the islands over the next few years.  To begin the development of agriculture, the first settlers had to clear parts of the dense forests that covered much of the island and also constructed large number of canals (levadas) to irrigate the mountainous landscape. The building of the levadas of the following centuries has led to some spectacular walks and trails along side of them.

By far the largest city on the island is Funchal where we stayed, with a population of just over 100,000, is home to most of the modern hotels and also the main botanical and pleasure gardens in Madeira. The old town still has a lovely charm with many historic buildings.

We will blog about some of the main gardens in Madeira separately, but here are a few photos to keep you going for now.

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens - Oriental Gardens
General view of Funchal from Reid's Palace Hotel gardens.
Gardens at Hospicio da Princesa
Botanical Gardens
Jardim Municipal Funchal

Blandys Garden - Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro
Monte Palace Tropical Gardens


  1. Stunning! Everything I expected Madeira to be. In the photo of the gardens at Hospicio da Princesa, is that a Dragon Tree (Dracaena draco)?

    :: Bamboo and More ::

  2. Hi Gerhard, it is indeed :) There's loads dotted around the island.

  3. Wow! If you are going to post on all of these gardens, we have quite a treat in store. This is a part of the world I know little about. Thanks for the tantalizing peek!

  4. Ditto on Gerhard's comment. Stunning.

  5. Hi there - I was going to say "welcome back" but from that small taster I suspect you wish you were still there, even if you do have crocus out! That tree in the gardens at Hospicio da Princesa is spectacular. Look forward to your holiday postcards.

  6. looks great, I particularly like your top picture of the colonial looking house...very atmospheric.

  7. Dear Mark and Gaz, What wonderful photographs and how wise of you to have escaped the wall to wall grey that is London at present. You have certainly whetted my appetite for more lovely views of this most intriguing country.

  8. What a great trip! Is it a Dracaena on the 5th pic? It is absolutely breathtaking.
    Have a good week-end

  9. Love to see yet another part of the world in depth. Can't wait for the details.

  10. sounds like a dream trip! can't wait to see more pics!!

  11. Gee, you two get around! Thanks for the photos. I especially like that one with the red looks like the arch in your garden.

  12. Why on earth have we always put off a trip to Maderia, it really does look amazing. I wonder if you were on those sledge type things.

  13. Wonderful garden, amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Thanks everyone :) It's a pleasure to share some of the photos. I'll do some features and post more photos of this wonderful island in the next few weeks when I get the chance. It's amazing how much catching up one needs to do just by dissappearing for a week!

    Janet, we had a lovely time but it's also nice to be back home. Can't stay away from hre too long, I start missing the garden, hehe!

    That Dracaena draco has been receiving plenty of comments, not surprised as is a stunning (and unique) specimen.

    Clive, that colonial looking house is Reid's Palace Hotel, one of the major landmarks in Madeira. The planting scheme of the hotel grounds is just as superb.

    Edith, for a moment I've forgotten how grey London can be but I'm istantly reminded as soon as we landed back at the airport. But I'm not complaining as at least the temps are mild :)

  15. Hazel, well spotted! The red bridges, arbours, and walkways of Monte Tropical Gardens has been the main inspiration for that arbour. Not exclusively though, there's a quirkier reason for choosing bright red for the arbour as explain in a future post :)

    Alistair, don't keep delaying a holiday in Madeira, you'd definitely love it! We've been several times but have never tried a Toboggan ride. I've always joked that I don't want to hand out money to ride a wicker basket down a slope, but I'm just being stingey :) Thos wo tried all say it's good fun!

  16. Wonderful photos. I can't wait for a more indepth look at some of those gardens. Nothing like living vicariously ;)


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