The Jose do Canto Botanical Garden in Ponta Delgada
The Jose do Canto garden is a beautiful family-owned victorian style botanical garden located in the heart of the capital of Ponta Delgada. This 19th-century garden is right next to the Palace de Santa Ana, the residence of the President of the Azores. A garden started in the 19th century by the wealthy landowner and aristocrat Jose do Canto, on the land belonging to his wife Lady Maria Guilhermina Taveira Brum da Silveira in 1845. Jose do Canto loved his island. Although he left to study at a young age in Paris and then Portugal, once he graduated, he made it his life’s work to help turn Sao Miguel into an agricultural breadbasket, ensuring the island’s self-sufficiency. He always was modernizing and was known as a very intelligent man. It was Jose do Canto that was responsible for introducing thousands of new trees, plants, and flowers to the region from all over the world. However, the most famous accomplishment he is credited with is tea production and cultivation in the Azores, most notably Sao Miguel and Faial islands. The elaborate botanical garden starts at the large gated entrance where you pay a couple of Euros to enter the garden and are given a map of the estate’s various locations worth visiting. The small fee helps to maintain the garden and the employees who tend these delicate plants. There are a couple of buildings on the estate, including the former residence of Jose do Canto: the modest family palace he created, which still belongs in the family of his heirs and is now used as a charming, boutique hotel. Often considered one of the finest private botanical gardens in all of Portugal, as mentioned in various European horticulture articles and circulations. Here in this well-maintained garden, you can walk through a 60-foot tall bamboo forest or admire the hundreds of varieties of Camellias that exist here. Here every February, the Camellias start to bloom, and the garden smells of heavenly scents and fills the garden with a plethora of beautiful colors. This is a fantastic spot to spend the night at their hotel located on-site. Here you can walk the grounds at any hour of the day or evening while being centrally located right in the heart of downtown. The garden has attracted world leaders from all over the world, on their cross Atlantic voyages. Over the last century in half, the guest book has included some historical figures such as the previous King and Queen of Portugal, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and even President Franklin D. Roosevelt; all of who mentioned their experiences in their memoirs or personal diaries. The death in 1898 of Jose do Canto left his extensive holdings to his heirs, which divided the sizeable botanical garden to what it currently is today, which is 6 hectares leaving the other half of the estate to remain a private manor home and residence.