Royal arms on a superb tapestry hung in the ‘waiting room’ to the royal family’s quarters.

Just before visitng the Ajuda Botanical Garden in Lisbon, we took a tour of the nearby Ajuda Palace, once the home of the Portuguese Royal Family and resplendent with rich decor, furniture, tapestries and other curiosities. A particular novelty was the indoor ‘Winter Garden’ which is a high ceilinged room hung with plants, glass grapes that catch the light, a small fountain complete with its own ‘menagerie’ and splendid bird cages. And gold is everywhere. One can imagine how this room would have been a delight in the colder months with its visual interest and birdsong.

Otherwise known as the ‘Marble Room’, this space is a good example of how controlling nature and bringing it into the house became popular in the 19th century. The walls and ceiling are lined with alabaster, the gift of the Viceroy of Egypt. This rather grand space was nonetheless intended for leisure and relaxation- a place for princely birthday parties and royal dinners on a table set around the Carrara marble fountain.

Old School Gardener