The Antonio Borges Botanical Garden in Sao Miguel Azores
António Borges da Câmara de Medeiros was born in June of 1812 and lived until March of 1879. A member of the aristocratic Da Câmara family of Madeira and a knight of the royal house, Antonio Borges came from one of Portugal’s most influential families. A politician and former Governor of the islands, Antonio was the brother of the famous Viscount of Praia e Monforte. Considered one of the most famous botanists in Portuguese history, his love for botany came in part with the competition he faced with his cousins who at the time were in the process of creating elaborate English and Victorian-style gardens to rival some of Europe’s finest parks. The desire to turn the Azores into a floating garden of paradise was one of the great landowners’ ambitions. Jose does Canto, Ernesto Do Canto, Marquis Jacome Correia, the Marquise of Praia e Monforte and Antonio Borges, which all began importing rare exotic trees, flowers, and plants from every corner of the globe. The experimentations started with the results being outstanding for the owners. It was truly remarkable how the soil and fair climate allowed so many plants to thrive in an otherwise a foreign region to the species. Today, the five gardens are some of the most visited botanical gardens in all of Portugal, each unique in design and differ significantly in the varieties of plants and flowers. Located in the center of the city of Ponta Delgada, a 3-minute car ride from the cruise terminal, this 4 acre, once the private garden is breathtaking. The amount of flowers and trees from Australia to Brazil and everywhere in between is truly exceptional. The amount of detail and attention that went into the garden’s construction and design is one of true genius. Unlike his cousin, Jose do Canto, who noticed some of the plants were experiencing growth problems due to their placement so close to the oceans salty breeze. When Antonio and his architect designed his garden, he assured that the most sensitive plants to the ocean wind were placed in areas that would not affect their growth and beauty, which has resulted in international recognition as one of the most beautiful gardens in the Atlantic. Secret paths, grottos that lead to small ponds, and tropical flowers from all over the world are only one reason why this magical garden in the middle of the ocean is a true oasis. In 1957 the Garden was acquired by the Government of the Azores and opened as a public park in the same year. Since then, the park has seen a consistent amount of tourism with the recent boom in travel to Sao Miguel in 2014 and 2015, reaching the highest numbers in recent years due to the wide variety of plants and flowers and its ideal location in the heart of the island’s capital. The garden entrance is free, and it is worth exploring this vast garden or just stopping in for a picnic in one of the beautiful spots this botanical garden has to offer.