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The garden of the Vila Porto Mare resort has an area of 13400 m² (10100 m² of flowerbeds and lawns; 3300 m² of impermeable area) and was created in two stages.
The oriental section, older and smaller, next to Suite Hotel Eden Mar, was designed and planted in 1988 by Estufa, a company run by technical engineer Duarte Caldeira, under the supervision of agronomy engineer Rui Vieira.
Landscape architect Gerald Luckhurst designed the second stage and the plantation was done in January, 2003.
Many plants were produced at the Jardim Formoso nurseries, in Sintra. Others were bought from italian nurseries (Lazio) and from the South of France. Most palms were purchased at Alicante and Malaga (Spain).
The morphology and atmosphere of this garden show a conceptual connection to the cottage gardens of the british colonies, with a strong presence of tropical and subtropical flora. Species from Australia and the Pacific Islands, Central and South America, Southern Africa and Tropical Asia play a significant role in the remarkable ornamental performance and show a good adaptation ability to the seafront climate, reacting very well to the sea air.
The garden is arranged into three planes. In the intermediate level, a small forest serves as a haven for nesting blackbirds, warblers, sparrows and canaries, which sing all year round for the guests.
The prevalence of the trees and shrubs with persistent leaves is clear, and the rhythm of the seasons is set by the colour of flowers throughout the twelve months of the year.
The collection of palm trees is made of 45 species, a greater variety than that of the collection of the Botanical Garden of Madeira.
Sugar cane, grapevine and banana, the three most striking plants of the agricultural landscape of Madeira, are mixed with the ornamental plants in a most fortunate way and bring the attention of the visitors to the economic history of the Island.
Since 2008 new beds were set for vegetable greens, aromatic and medicinal herbs, with the purpose to bring new scents and flavours to the guests. The vegetable heritage was also enhanced with plant species endemic to Madeira, with special incidence of the xerophile plants of the shoreline.
Aiming at an ecologically sustainable management, the irrigation is done with water from the ‘Levada dos Piornais’, which drastically reduces the use of drinking water. In 2008 equipment was installed for the production of organic compost from the aerobic fermentation of the leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, remains of fruit and vegetables, and the reduction of chemical fertiliser use is already significant.
At the garden of Vila Porto Mare one can find 106 families, 355 genera, 460 species and 555 taxa (species, subspecies and cultivars), numbers that place it in the EXCEPTIONAL CLASS OF TAXONOMIC RICHNESS. All plants are identified with signs which provide the visitor with information about the scientific name, common names in Portuguese and English, family and geographical area of origin.
Centre of Geographical Studies
University of Lisbon