Madeira and the Canary Islands are favourite holiday destinations for many Europeans for their year-round mild climate and exclusive hotel and beach resorts. Both are home to many indigenous plant species that are grown in gardens around the world, including Madeira's Geranium madeirensis and Scilla madeirensis, and the Canary Island's Euphorbia canariensis, Dracaena draco (dragon tree) and Phoenix canariensis (the Canary Island date palm).
Gardens to see and visit in Madeira and the Canary Islands include subtropical gardens of palms, orchids, mature trees and fountains, as well as dry subtropics gardens of cactus and succulents, and many beautiful streetscapes.
Note: although Madeira and the Canary islands are politically part of Portugal and Spain respectively and therefore Europe, they are included in the African region due to their proximity to Africa's north-west coast
"Madeira made me want to breath deeper, the fresh air a healthy retreat! This beautiful island has dramatic high mountains on one side and the blue of the ocean joins with sky on the other. The roads and paths are steep and windy which forces a slow pace. We walked the levadas, ate local food harvested from small nurtured plots around each village and experienced the warm hospitality of the locals."
Garden Travel Guide to Madeira and the Canary Islands
Although situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, Madeira and the Canary Islands are part of Europe as they are island territories of Portugal and Spain respectively. Located in the Atlantic Ocean but in the warm Gulf Stream and about 400km apart, they are islands of volcanic origin with a warm Mediterranean climate and summer daytime average temperatures around 28C, although there will be several days above 35C. In winter, daytime temperatures are about 14C.
Rainfall in Madeira is much higher at about 630mm a year, mostly in winter, while the Canaries has a much lower 125-225mm a year, varying between the islands. However, in recent years Madeira has had severe droughts and subsequent wildfires.
Both Madeira and the Canary Islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife have mountainous areas, sometimes even snow covered.
Each of the 8 Canary Islands has a distinct microclimate, with those further east – Fuerventura and Lanzarote being much drier than the western islands of Gran Canaria. Tenerife manages to have both, being wet in the north and dry in the south.
Where to see gardens in Madeira and the Canary Islands:
Gardens to visit in the Canary Islands
• Jardin Botanico Canario – Gran Canaria. 27 hectares with a superb collection of indigenous plants from the 7 Canary Islands. Free entry.
• Hotel Botánico – across the road from the Botanical Garden has lush tropical gardens merging into a Japanese garden.
• Jardin de Cactus (Cactus Garden) – Lanzarote. Built in a disused quarry and designed by Cesar Manrique. Over 1100 species of cactus.
• Vineyards in La Geria, Lanzarote – a most unusual landscape as each Malvasia vine is planted in an individual pit and protected by a semi-circular stone wall to protect it from drying winds
• Jardin de la Marquesa (Marquise of Arucas Gardens) – Arucas, Gran Canaria. 5 hectare 19th century garden of palms, dragon trees, ponds and flowers. Open Mon-Sat
• Hijuela del Botánico – La Orotavo, Tenerife
• Santa Cruz de la Palma, La Palma – stroll along the streets of this historic seaside town and admire the colourful window boxes.
• Hotel Rural el Patio – Garachico, Tenerife. Hotel and restaurant set in beautiful gardens alongside a banana plantation
• Gran Hotel Bahía Del Duque Resort – Tenerife. Hotel, spa and 8 restaurants set in more than 6 hectares of grounds and garden
Gardens to visit in Madeira
Madeira is part of Portugal, but located west of Morocco off the African coast. Funchal on Madeira is a paradise for lovers of subtropical gardens.
• Jardim Botânico da Madeira (Madeira Botanical Garden) – Canico. Magnificent topiary gardens, succulent gardens, floral carpet, conservation of native Madeiran plants, abundant birdlife, especially parrots.
• Jardim Orquidea – more than 7500 varieties of orchids
• Jardim Tropical da Quinta do Monte Palace (Monte Palace Tropical Gardens) – accessed by cable car from Funchal. 7 hectares of magnificent woodland gardens, with streams and waterfalls. Significant cycad collection
• Palheiro Gardens – huge camellia collection, many exotic mature trees, colourful foliage and flowers, topiary parterre.
• Santa Catarina Park – mature trees, large lake and fountain, colourful flower beds. Free entry.
• Jardim Municipal – Funchal. Historic and mature trees, flower beds, large lake, sweeping lawns
• Quinta Jardins do Lago – boutique hotel, restaurant and bar surrounded by 2.5 hectares of lush and colourful gardens
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