It is no exaggeration to say that in Madeira there are plants from all four corners of the world and this is due to six centuries of human colonisation bringing new discoveries to the island. The constant arrival of new species combined with the mild climate of Madeira has helped many of the species thrive and as a result, plants blossom throughout the year here making the gardens all over Madeira reminiscent of an eternal spring.
An area of particular beauty has to be the Madeira botanical gardens where more than 3,000 species of plants are arranged in several major collections. The arboredo collection gathers trees and shrubs from around the globe and under the canopy of the trees you will find a mosaic of diverse species of plants as well as a small lake where you can relax and enjoy the sounds of birdsong.
The succulents represent one of the most curious collections of the garden with around 200 species from desert areas, including cacti, which have developed and evolved to the climate of Madeira. Topiary, the art of shaping plants to create forms of sculpture is also a feature in the garden and several different shapes of animals and objects can be found dotted all around, adding to the choreography of the gardens where colour, texture and shape are all interlinked.
Cycads and palms can be found all around the world and in the Madeira botanical gardens there are 44 species of these two plants alone.
Throughout the entire garden there are different landscaped spaces with beds of flowers coming together to create a comfortable and harmonious atmosphere. But it is not all about the aesthetics of the species and agro-industrial plants are also prominent with 150 examples of tropical and sub-tropical trees on display alongside an interesting collection of about 80 different species of plant used for medical and culinary purposes.
The garden also boasts a greenhouse designed to house plants that require higher levels of humidity and temperature and here there can be found bromeliads, orchids and other insectivorous plants. While tropical examples of plants are a large feature of the gardens, indigenous examples from Madeira are also on display with more than 100 native species.
The property of the Madeira botanical gardens covers approximately eight hectares with five of these being used for the garden itself but beyond the garden there is also a museum of natural history and the Louro park where a further 500 species of plant and 60 species of exotic birds can be found.
The creation of the Madeira botanical gardens has been a labour of love dating back to the eighteenth century, with the climate and the conditions on the island helping to cultivate the large number of species of plants from both tropical and cooler climates.
The realisation of the dream to create a botanical garden to show off this diversity came when the space was acquired by the Junta Geral do Distito Autónomo do Funchal of the Quinta do Bom Sucesso in 1952 and from this time there has been a botanical garden in Madeira.
The gardens are open throughout the year for visitors between 9am and 6pm and a trip to the gardens is not only an excellent opportunity to view a myriad of plants, it is also a wonderful space for relaxation and leisure. The average visit takes around two hours but you can choose to stay on a little longer to enjoy the scenery and climate and with such a great diversity of species in the garden there will always been new blooms to find in this little piece of eternal spring.