Madeira, Portugal. This just may displace what had been No. 1 on my fantasy trip list. One way to arrive at the Madeira Botanical Gardens is by way of cable car from the historic village of Monte situated high above the seaside city center of Funchal. The cable car crosses the Joao Gomes Stream Valley for what must be a spectacular nine-minute ride.
Also be sure to take the famed toboggan ride in Monte. No snow required. Two-seat wicker sledges glide through the winding streets on wooden runners, a throw back from the 1850s. This is one of those trust-thy-driver travel adventures. Whether on a collision course or due to being 700 meters above sea level, this just might be the nosebleed arena for me.
Looks worth it. The Madeira Botanical Garden, also begun in the 1850’s, features an arboretum, indigenous, succulent, aromatic and medicinal plants as well as agricultural plants. Also included at the site is a park featuring 300 types of tropical and exotic birds.
The Botanical Garden is involved in the Macaronesia Seed Bank (BASEMAC) program for the sustainable conservation of plant diversity. According to their website the archipelagos of the Region of Macaronesia is one of the world’s most important centers of biodiversity, with varieties of plants unique only to this area. Half of the endemic species are threatened with extinction. The seed bank works toward conserving the genetic heritage of the islands.
Wait a minute . . . a map shows there’s the Ecological Park nearby and the Monte Palace Tropical Garden too. Oh my! What‘s on your fantasy garden travel list?
Nancy R. Peck