Palheiro Gardens is one of the most beautiful of Madeira’s many gardens. The garden is particularly famous for its remarkable collection of camellias, some of which may be more than 200 years old. Look for these famous flowers interspersed with an imaginative mix of local and exotic plants, originating from as far away as Japan and Australia.
The garden is sometimes known as Blandy’s Garden in reference to its owners, one of Madeira’s wealthiest wine-shipping families. The Count of Carvalhal originally owned the garden and planted the early camellias; some of the first trees planted can still be seen today. The Blandy family acquired the site in the late 19th century and continued to cultivate the land, introducing hundreds of new species over the years.
Walk along the garden paths, admiring the intricate topiary. The landscape design is inspired by traditional English gardens, but the inclusion of plants from around the world adds a few surprises. Look for dragon trees, African protea and eucalyptus.
The estate is sectioned into zones, each containing different types of plant life. Don’t miss the Brazilian araucaria and New Zealand metrosideros, which can be found in the Tea House area. Be sure to see the colorful rose garden added by Christina Blandy.
Look for the Lady’s Garden and the pretty Baroque chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Head to the Barranco do Bavio (the Wild Ravine) for the best views over the Bay of Funchal. You might spot frogs, birds and butterflies amid the elegant water lilies in the garden ponds.
Visit the garden between November and April, when the famous camellias are in season. The garden is home to over 10,000 different camellia species, many of which are featured along the entranceway.
The Palheiro Gardens are open daily year-round, with holiday closures at Christmas and New Year’s. Located east of Funchal, the gardens can be reached by bus. Alternatively, drive just 15 minutes from the city.