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Fantasy Gardens: Madeira, Bermuda & Morocco

Gardens frequently feature in our clients’ wish lists for their holiday destinations. I have enjoyed those of Madeira, Bermuda and Morocco and can vouch for their rich and exotic displays. If you are looking for somewhere to go specifically to indulge a passion for flowers or if you simply want to include a Botanical Garden in your agenda then one of these locations would certainly suit.

Madeira

Madeira is often called the ‘Floating Garden of the Atlantic’ and if you like to experience spectacular gardens on your travels then I strongly recommend you consider a trip to Portugal’s island.

I always point clients with green thumbs in the direction of Funchal, which was awarded the title of European Flowering City in 2000.

The whole island is teeming with floral displays that will overwhelm you, but the main city has the highest concentration of some of the most spectacular institutional gardens.

Botanical Garden

With over 2,000 plants, the Botanical Garden (3km from Funchal city centre), is a feast for the eyes and the nose. My favourite area contains the Tropical, Aromatic and Medicinal species. There are mango, papaya, avocado and coffee trees as well as sugar cane. The Garden is also home to a fascinating collection of indigenous plants so you’ll get to see the flora that thrives in natural Laurissilva forests. It’s both an educational and sensual experience – my intellectual curiosity is satisfied by the labels that provide the scientific and common names as well as details of the origins, and my senses are delighted by the heady perfume and vibrant colours of these flamboyant tropical displays.

Jardim Tropical

All the members of the Prestige team who have been to Madeira have returned raving about the Jardim Tropical at Monte Palace. This is a splendid blend of stunning gardens and art features which you can reach direct by cable car from Funchal. There is an enormous collection of exotic plants displayed in grounds where swans, ducks, peacocks and chickens roam freely. Nestled amongst the vegetation are pathways decorated with Renaissance style Hispano-Moorish tiles, renowned as one of the country’s most important tile collections.

Accommodation

There are some really lovely hotels in Funchal in our portfolio that will have you perfectly located to visit the many exemplary gardens of the town and to venture out to explore the floral displays that make the island so famous.

Bermuda

Many of our clients who are looking for a golfing holiday ask us to help them select a location that can keep their other half entertained while they spend time on the fairways. If your partner is partial to flora and fauna then Bermuda can be a great option for you both.

I have always been impressed by the many natural and cultivated spaces on the island where the flowers, plants and trees thrive – there are many Nature Reserves and gardens to visit where you can discover the indigenous species.

Bermuda Botanical Gardens

35 acres of landscaped park in Paget Parish will keep the most avid flower lover occupied for hours. At the Bermuda Botanical Gardens there are Banyan trees, flowering hisbiscus, subtropical fruit trees and an aviary. The aromatic garden that is designed for blind visitors is a heady delight for the sighted as well. Glass houses contain cacti and orchids. I joined one of the free tours that runs 3 days per week – it lasts 90 minutes and is a fantastic way to learn something while you’re enjoying the gardens. You can also spend some time in Camden House for a dose of art and antiques.

Paget Marsh

Paget Marsh has been preserved to sustain the flora and fauna that occupied it as early as 1609 when the Sir George Somers founded a settlement in Paget. Today there is a boardwalk that has been constructed to allow visitors to see the mangroves and forests that thrive in the peat. Various members of our team have reported back on the wax myrtle, native ferns, and other shrubs that sit beneath the original cedar and palmetto canopy of this tropical paradise. We have had much positive feedback about the Waterville and Paget Marsh tour that guides visitors around the eighteenth-century Headquarters of the Bermuda National Trust and the Marsh – it’s a 90 minute excursion that we highly recommend to our clients.

Accommodation

If you want to stay in an area with easy access to these gardens then our selection of  Paget Parish hotels will suit you best but as Bermuda is so small getting around anywhere is quick and easy. The area is perfect for exploring the island and you can enjoy accommodation on the pink sand beaches.

Marrakech

If you are interested in historical gardens and their philosophy then there is no better destination to indulge your passion than Marrakech. Some of the world’s most famous poetic gardens can be found here in the context of a city that has perfected the cultivation of quiet contemplative spaces in the midst of unrivalled urban hustle and bustle.

While I have enjoyed wandering in and out of Riad gardens on impulse, there are a few more substantial institutions whose gardens have played a major part in the development of the Moroccan tradition.

Jardin Majorelle

All your senses are engaged when you enter the enchanting Jardin Majorelle. You hear the chirping of birds, the burbling of streams and pools and the rustling of leaves in the breeze. You’ll see the vibrant primary-coloured buildings tucked away amidst the vegetation. The air is so strongly scented with the fruit of citrus trees and exotic flowers that I always say that you can practically taste it as well as smell it. From bamboo displays to pools filled with water lilies, this garden is a treasure trove to explore.

The Agdal

The Agdal is geometrically and functionally one of the closest models of Ancient Mesopotamian gardens that you’ll find in the world. These gardens are located in the grounds of the Royal Palace and you can visit them twice a week if the king is not in residence. The irrigation system was designed to enable a series of linked gardens to flourish with water sourced from the Atlas Mountains. Orchards are filled with pomegranate, orange, lemon, apricot and fig trees. Olive trees line the paths and visitors wander through a fragrant, ancient and lush paradise.

My favourite part of The Agdal is the historical resonance that this garden has for visitors.

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Accommodation

We have a superb collection of Marrakech hotels that will offer you the perfect sanctuary during your stay in the city. You’ll be able to reach both the Jardin Majorelle and The Agdal easily from the properties in the heart of the city centre.

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