Tag Archive: romantic

IMG_0788Our 2014 September visit to Portugal featured some interesting new places, including three wonderful gardens. The first I’m featuring was a visit to the home of wealthy ex pat Brits when it was established over a century ago. Monserrate sits in the mountains north-west of Lisbon in the regal suburb of Sintra.

The website which covers many of the Sintra garden gems describes Monserrate gardens and its palace as:

‘..one of the most beautiful architectural and landscape Romantic creations in Portugal… unique representatives of 19th century eclecticism.The Palace combines gothic and Indian influences as well as Moorish suggestions together with exotic and plant motifs which are harmoniously extended to the exterior. The gardens have received species from all corners of the world, which were planted according to their geographical origin. The front lawn of the Palace provides a well-deserved rest, while discovering one of the richest Portuguese botanical gardens.’

It was built in 1858 for Sir Francis Cook, an English baronet who had amassed a fortune as a trader and textile baron and was created Visconde de Monserrate by King Luis. Cook turned to an English architect, James Knowles jr. for the house design. He took inspiration from the many countries Cook had dealings with and also the flamboyantly oriental Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England, built for the Prince Regent, later Goeorge IV over 50 years earlier. I loved the round tower and proportions of the palac, the use of reflected light under the wide eaves with subtle creamy and terracotta hues to create a lovely warm glow. The rich decoration is a generally successful blending of eastern, moorish and gothic revival styles. Here are some pics of the house….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cook hired William Nevil as Botanical expert and landscaper. The project was completed within 5 years and was Cook’s summer residence. The entire estate was put up for sale in the 1920s by Cook’s great-grandson, and after many years of neglect was purchased by the state in 1949. Since then it has been open to the public as a national monument.

The English influence emanates throughout the gardens which have a romantic feel, especially as you wind your way along rough paths through shaded glades with waterfalls, pockets of sunlight and mock ruins, and eventually up to the rather more manicured lawn (the first laid in Portugal) that stretches away from the house down to the grounds. These also include specialist and exotic gardens with non-native plants from Cook’s personal collection. Here are some pics of the gardens and grounds…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Monserrate Palace is the smallest of Sintra’s three palaces but it is by far the most decorative – and beautiful-  and certainly captivated me, as did the winding and varied gardens – especially the Mexican Garden, some pics of which follow…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It has taken 20 years to restore the gardens and the result was recognised in 2013 when they were voted the winner of the European Garden Awards in the category for “Historical parks”. In 1995 the park was recognised by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site as a part of several palaces and parks in Sintra. The citation for its latest award says:

‘Light and shadow, exotic and rare plants, winding paths and breath-taking views, but even new garden sections, such as the rose garden that was opened in the year 2011 by the Prince of Wales, make a visit to Monserrate, in spite of the many other wonderful parks in Portugal, a unique, fascinating and therefore “prize worthy” event.’

 IMG_0786Old School Gardener

PicPost: Smell the air


Entrance to the Estrela gardenFollowing my article about Portuguese Heritage Gardens, I thought I’d turn my attention to a few of my favourite public gardens in that country. I’m beginning with one of my real favourites, one I love to return to when I’m in Lisbon (not that that’s very often!).

It’s the Estrela Garden (the Jardim da Estrela or Garden of the Star) which has a wonderful blend of exotic, artful, friendly charm with an atmosphere from the best of classic 19th century neighbourhood parks and gardens. It’s no surprise, then , that it remains as one of the most popular gardens in Lisbon. The orignal layout – 19th century romantic landscape style – features plenty of exotic plants and a central pond.
It is known officially as the Jardim Guerra Junqueiro (Junqueiro was a famous poet and politician who was a key figure in the downfall of the Portuguese monarchy and the establishment of the Portuguese Republic in 1910). In the 1840s the governor of Lisbon saw the need for a public garden in the densely populated city, and thanks to a donation by a wealthy baron, the governor was able to acquire the area  (5 acres) opposite the Estrela Basilica. Work on building the garden started in 1842 but due to the outbreak of war and financial difficulties, it didn’t open to the public for another ten years.

The gardens are laid out in a landscaped style with plenty of exotic trees, cacti, flower beds and a pond with fountains. The garden is especially popular with locals who come here during weekends to socialize, stroll along the paths, have a drink at the café, or play cards at one of the permanent tables among the trees.

The garden was designed by gardeners Bonard and João Francisco and it originally featured several romantic structures such as a gazebo and a Chinese pavilion. These structures are no longer there, but there are plenty of sculptures and a 19th century wrought iron bandstand, originally located at the site of the City’s main boulevard, Avenida da Liberdade. It was moved here in 1936.

After the creation of the Portuguese republic, several statues were installed in the park, the most expressive of which is of a farmer (sculptor Costa Mota,1913).  There is another of a female nude known as ‘O Despertar’ (sculptor Simões de Almeida).The most famous statue in the park is probably that of the Guardadora de Patos (keeper of the ducks) – a limestone replica of the marble original from 1914, it shows the protagonist of a popular fairy tale. Other statues include a dog spouting water from its mouth and 3 other busts depicting poets and an actor. More recent additions include a children’s playground and a pond-side cafe. The garden hosts the annual  Out Jazz festival – on Sunday afternoons during this time (usually May), Jardim Estrela will be alive with music and people enjoying the Sunday evening jazz in the open air auditorium.

Beyond the park is the English Cemetery, founded in 1717 and originally shared with the Dutch community. Novelist Henry Fielding, author of Tom Jones, died during a visit to Lisbon and is buried here.

Here are some images to let you get the feel of the place.

Source: A View on Cities

Old School Gardener

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and others on this blog, why not comment and join others by signing up for automatic updates via email (see side bar, above right ) or through an RSS feed (see top of page)?

Finding Nature

Nature Connectedness Research Blog by Prof. Miles Richardson

Norfolk Green Care Network

Connecting People with Nature

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Susan Rushton

Celebrating gardens, photography and a creative life

Daniel Greenwood

Unlocking landscapes

Alphabet Ravine

Lydia Rae Bush Poetry


Australian Pub Project

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement & garden renovation

How I Killed Betty!

Mad as a box of frogs? Most probably ... but if I can’t be perfect, then I’ll happily be fabulously imperfect!

Bits & Tidbits


Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy


Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy


Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably


A girl and her garden :)

%d bloggers like this: