Portugal with its maritime contacts in the 17th century introduced this native plant from China and Japan to the region of the Azores, where today there exists over 600 varieties of camellias. The camellias that exists in the Azores have been there for hundreds of years, with many people thinking they are endemic to the region, however that is not the case. The mystery and beauty surrounding camellias has always existed in Europe as they have always been seen as rare and exotic flowers and symbols of the beauty and wealth beyond the sea. They were first recorded in England in 1739 and from there spread amongst European landowners. It was the rare beauty and unique varieties of plants that made this a favourite amongst aristocratic landowners in the 18th and 19th century.The island of Sao Miguel, being practically a floating botanical garden in the middle of the ocean provides all the needed characteristics in growing a thriving camellia collection. The island of Sao Miguel, having a higher than standard acid pH balance in its soil has allowed these plants to adorn the vast countryside and private gardens of this unique island. Here you can explore of 600 varieties of Camellias that adorn the walkways and gardens of some of the islands most beautiful locations.The island hosts an annual Camellia Expo, which brings in garden enthusiasts from all over the world to come explore these unique, colorful flowers. Some gardens worth exploring in the region that have the largest collection of camellias are the Jose do Canto garden and palace in Ponta Delgada and the Terra Nostra garden in Furnas which has the largest private camellia collection in all of Portugal. These plants do not need to be only cultivated in greenhouses, like many locations throughout Europe where the plant is popular yet does not grow outside. The wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors of these plants makes it a unique and personal choice in which plants you want to cultivate if you decide to plant these in your garden. It is recommended planting them North or North-West, while avoiding areas with heavy wind. That is one of the many obstacles of ensuring these plants grow large and healthy. The botanists in the region have mastered the art of cultivating these plants with much time and effort put into avoiding areas with heavy ocean winds that may cause premature rusting of the plants.The paved walkways at the 29 acre garden in Furnas is the ideal spot to come explore these plants while being surrounded by thousands of endemic and native trees and flowers of the region. This is an 18th century garden that has been continually restored and enhanced in it’s over 200 year history. This secret location has always been a favorite amongst European nobility due to the health properties of the mineral pools in the surrounding gardens. The landed gentry made a point of creating elaborate botanical gardens filled with hundreds of varieties of these beautiful species for their guests to enjoy on their trans Atlantic crossovers. This is a must see place for any garden lover who wants to enhance their understanding of the plant and admire its beauty.