The Secret to Creating the Perfect Azores Style Garden

One thing you’re sure to discover on your trip to the Azores is the abundance of flowers both native and endemic that blanket these picturesque islands landscape. Each of the 9 islands have their own unique beauty and are filled with a wide variety of unique plants, flowers and trees that make this a nature lovers dream destination. One of the main reasons why the Azores has recently become a relatively popular tourist destination is because of its unique natural beauty and outstanding flora that these isolated islands in the Atlantic have to offer. The protective measures imposed by the government in recent decades have allowed these islands to remain an agricultural paradise, where the islands population and delicate ecosystems have remained in balance since their initial discovery in the 15th century.The isolated location of these 9 islands brings with it a unique climate with the upwind breeze from the gulf stream affecting the region’s weather patterns and bringing with it a steady amount of rainfall all year long. It is why here in the Azores, and most notably on the island of Sao Miguel which is often referred to as “the green island”, that you see a wide variety of healthy plants and flowers that could only survive due to the abundance of rain during the winter months. It’s not to say that if you try and plant the same flowers in your own home garden that they will not turn out, they may just require a little extra attention or proper placement to thrive. The most famous flower for the region and one that grows like a weed throughout the archipelago is the Hydrangea. Here you have the most beautiful blue hydrangeas that blanket the islands highways and countrysides on each of the 9 islands.Sao Miguel Azores FlowersMost Azoreans would consider the blue hydrangea the national flower of the region and it is customary to see embroideries and souvenirs from the Azores with the blue hydrangea as the recognized symbol of the islands. Most people do not understand that what makes the difference in color for the hydrangea plant from blue, to purple, red or pink is the amount of acidity that is in the soil around the plant. I have heard many times from people who want to mimic an Azorean garden and they just can’t get the hydrangeas to grow blue. The problem is the soil, and that you may require a soil with a higher acidity content; which you can get from your local garden store and mix in yourself with your own soil.Azores Tours Sao MiguelA must have for any Azores style garden is the lively and colorful bougainvillea. The Bougainvillea is a beautiful ornamental plant that thrives in many climates and adds a touch of elegance and class to what otherwise could be a boring garden. The plant or vines if you will, can range in size anywhere from 3 to 40 feet; and can be adapted to grow in various ways, making it ideal for pergolas or alongside fences.
Bougainvillea in full bloom during the summer seasonThe plant originates from South America; most notably Brazil where it is found in abundance throughout villages and cities throughout the continent. It was sent to the Kew Museum in London in the 19th century, where it soon began to propagate around the globe. The plant was introduced to the Azores most likely by Jose do Canto or Antonio Borges; two of Portugal’s most prominent private botanical garden owners. The families of the leading Azorean aristocrats at the time all wanted this beautiful plant that seemed to be resilient to the effects of the salt from the sea and made it ideal for planting along the coastlines. You can tell the more established manor homes in the Azores by their private garden. GrèceBecause land in the Azores has generally always belonged to a handful of landed gentry families, the availability and amount of land available for the local residents to create private gardens for leisure and not necessity such as crops or fruits meant that the space needed to be fully utilized and maximized to its full potential to be both practical and feasible. That is why the Bougainvillea is so popular since the colors of the flowers are outstanding and range from red, pink, magenta, purple and white and fills your garden with happy butterflies and hummingbirds who love this sweet smelling plant while bringing with it a plant that blooms all summer long. Palm tree and pink bougainvilleaA plant known for its abundance surrounding the “Lagoa do Fogo” on Sao Miguel island and is also popular in Azorean gardens because of its color and ease of growing is the Gladiola. The Gladiola or otherwise known as the sword lily, is a long stemmed plant that produces beautiful flowers along its stem. This is an outstandingly colorful plant as it almost completely covers itself in flowers once in bloom while being very resilient even in windy areas. Bunch of colorful Gladiolus flowers in beautiful gardenThis is a flower that only blooms once per year, however you can stage them to grow throughout the spring and summer so you always have these colorful plants in bloom as they are very popular with butterflies. These are great alongside fencing or at the back of your garden plot as you fill in and around these flowers as they make a great wall of color while attracting lots of butterflies and hummingbirds. This is a common flower to see in the long, large vases in people’s homes as they make a great addition to adding color and a burst of fresh spring into your home. GladiolenOf course no Azorean style garden would be complete without the lovely Azaleas bushes that bloom during the spring and summer months here in the Azores. Azalea bushes are members of the Rhododendron family, and are very popular flowering bush that bloom into a wide variety of beautiful colors. The size of Azalea bushes can vary from 2-10 feet in size and can grow tall and wide and provide a lovely fragrant scent. These flowering bushes are common to see around the various lakes and botanical gardens that adorn the 9 Azorean islands and are also very popular in home gardens. One of the reasons why this plant thrives here in the Azores is because of the unique, volcanic rich soil that is found here on these Atlantic islands. The soil in the Azores has a good acidity content and Azaleas are acid loving plants. They grow best in light shade, and need protection from heavy midday sun. Flowers from Sao Miguel AzoresThey prefer a moist, well drained soil with a pH balance of 5.5. Check the soil pH before planting, especially if planting along a foundation where soils tend to be more alkaline. Adjust the pH level, as needed. Azaleas grown from seeds can take 2 to 10 years to produce their first bloom. It is best to buy established Azalea plants while in bloom from a garden store to get the best results for your garden. Planting and transplanting Azaleas is always best to be done in the early spring or early fall. Azaleas may need a little protection in northern climates during the winter months for the first year. A simple plant cover is an affordable solution and works great to avoid heavy frost, which will kill your plant. These bushes are great additions to corners, walkways or along fence lines bringing a bit of the Azores to your home garden.

Azores Gardening and Flowers

No matter what your garden size or budget there are a wide variety of popular flowers from the Azores region that will surely succeed in your own home garden with the right amount of research and dedication.

Azores Flowers