On 26th March the President of Principe visits Palheiro Estate.
The President of Government of Principe José Cardoso Cassandra was in Madeira for the Biosphere conference and to celebrate the recent inclusion of Santana as a Biosphere reserve integrated into UNESCO.
Príncipe is the northern and smaller of the two major islands of the country of São Tomé and Príncipe lying off the west coast of Africa. It has an area of 136 km² and a population of approximately 5,000. The island is a heavily eroded volcano over three million years old, surrounded by other smaller islands including Ilheu Bom Bom, Ilhéu Caroço, Tinhosa Grande and Tinhosa Pequena. Príncipe rises in the south to 948 metres at Pico de Príncipe, in a thickly forested area forming part of the Obo National Park. The north and centre of the island were formerly plantations, most of them formed by Portuguese colonialists using slave labor. These concentrated initially on producing sugar and later on cocoa, becoming the world’s greatest cocoa producer. Since independence these plantations have since largely reverted to forest.
Príncipe was the site where Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was experimentally proved successful by Arthur Stanley Eddington and his team during the total solar eclipse of May 29, 1919.
As a frequent visitor I find that March, April and May are the most colourful times to visit the Palheiro gardens.
Camellias and sea of Arum lilies and Nasturtiums growing wild greet you along the entrance drive studded with Plane trees and old Oaks.
The orange pincushion Proteas and pink Judas trees are flowering in the Main garden whilst the bright red Captain Rawes reticulata Camellia signals the peak of another Camellia season . Rhododendrons, wild Freesias and mauve Moschosma mix with the rare Clematis grandiflora which is also in flower .
The spectacular red Telopeas from Western Australia are flowering above the Chapel and red Tritonias grow alongside the lowest pond below near the giant Auracarias .
White and blue Wisteria, Delphiniums, Californian poppies, Sweet Peas and a myriad of other annuals vie for attention in the Lower garden. Time also for the beautiful Cantua buxifolia with its red long trumpets and blue Echium candicans or Pride of Madeira below the lily ponds near the Tea house .
The Roses add a splash of colour in the walled Rose garden created several years ago though their main flowering time is yet to come.
Visit the new Palheiro Gardens website here.