Camellias are one of the many plants of the World which found a home in Madeira.
Camellias are native to the Orient, to China, Japan and Indo China.
They were introduced to Europe from China at the end of the 18th century. Later on in the Victorian time they were all the rage and no garden was complete without camellias.
It was the Conde de Carvalhal who introduced the camellias to Madeira.
He had thousands of them planted here at Palheiro which he bought in 1801. He build his ‘hunting’ lodge and with the help of French landscape/garden architects laid out his garden, planted avenues and grew fruit and wine.
Palheiro was bought in 1885 by John Burden Blandy. Over the years the Blandy women have taken great pride in caring for the gardens. My mother-in-law Mildred introduced many plants from all over the world and also continued adding on to the camellia collection.
The time to see these beautiful flowers starts in October with the early flowering C. Sasanqua and also the famous C. Granthamiana, discovered in Hong Kong in 1950’s.
The c. Japonica, single and double, white, pink, striped and red comes after and finishes around April. Also the huge pink and red flowers of the beautiful C. Reticulata are in bloom at that time.
From the gate house entrance along the drive, at the bottom of the main garden and in the Ribeira do Inferno you will see lots of plants. The walk continues to the chapel, surrounded by more camellias and then towards the huge Araucarias by Casa Velha hotel (the house the count built).
You will notice there has been much pruning work going on along the drive and other places (remnants of the big fire in 2012) You will also see to the south of the entrance an extensive replanting program underway, using mainly Madeira indigenous and endemic species.
It is not only the camellias that makes the gardens famous. Every season has so much to offer.
A good team of dedicated gardeners work proudly all year round to keep these wonderful gardens going.
The gardens are open every day between 09.00 – 17.30.
Bus from Funchal that stops by the entrance gate, number 36a and 37.