The Breathtaking Terra Nostra Garden in Furnas
The Terra Nostra Garden is located in the middle of the small town of Furnas, in the county of Povoacao on the island of Sao Miguel. This is one of the most impressive gardens in the Azores and has a deep history that dates back to the late 1700s. With over 600 varieties of Camellias, which is one of Europe’s most extensive private collections, is only one of the many appeals this enchanting garden offers. The garden has thermal hot springs you can swim in, volcanic mineral pools, thousands of flowers, and trees all manicured perfectly, to name a few of its fortunes. The 31-acre lush garden has so many neat trails, ponds, and even peacocks walking around strutting their glorious feathers as you admire the plethora of endemic and native flora and fauna. After being purchased in 1842 by the Viscount of Praia e Monforte, from then the American Consul in the region Thomas Hickling, the elaborate estate began its transformation into the enchanted botanical garden it has become today. During this time, the park was greatly expanded with many ornamental plants imported from all over the world, while also adding a new manor home built overlooking the large thermal springs pool.
During this time, all of the nobles and large landowners were competing with each other in trying to create the most elaborate garden on the island. This caused them to experiment with hundreds of varieties of plants, trees, and flowers worldwide, with each landowner having a particular interest in having unique plants.
According to gardeners who have studied the region for decades, the garden here at Terra Nostra is considered one of the most demanding and most difficult parks to maintain. It is a wonder how this active volcanic region on the island has been able to sustain one of the most elaborate gardens in all of Portugal for over 200 years, only adds to its story and charm.
The soil level ranges in acidity due to its location deep in a crater from minus 3 to 0 (neutral), affecting various plants’ growth throughout the garden. That is the main reason why individual plants and trees will grow in some regions of the park and not in others. It is a complex and delicate Ecosystem with various gardens, all-encompassing one sizeable botanical garden.
For over 30 years, Fernando Costa has been the head gardener here at the Terra Nostra Garden, owned by the Bensaude Group, a family-owned and operated business. He has been developing the garden and surrounding streams carefully, and mineral springs into the well-manicured, exotic garden that it has become today. Tourists and locals regularly come to this garden to relax and enjoy the many walking trails, enchanting picnic spots, or swimming in the mineral hot springs.
A real treasure in Azorean history and culture this is a location you want to explore on your trip to Sao Miguel. There are so many secret spots and magical wonders to discover in this garden. Your love for nature will only increase as you admire the unique beauty of the Azores. The endless streams, hot springs, camellia gardens, fern gardens, koi ponds, and hundreds of endemic and native plants make this one of the top places to spend the day and explore.