Gardeners' World presenter Joe swift studied garden design at The English Gardening School in 1990 while he set up his own landscaping company. As well as co-anchoring the RHS Chelsea Flower Show since 2001, Joe has presented, Small Town Gardens, Garden Makers and The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge among other television programmes. He is also the author of three books, and regularly writes for a range of publications.
Nature and Gardens
The gardens of Madeira with Joe Swift
Where better to celebrate spring than the island of Madeira - a
subtropical paradise that boasts world-class gardens, spectacular
coastlines, a rich maritime history and balmy weather? And there is
certainly no one better to join this unique tour than the garden
designer and Gardener's World presenter, Joe Swift.
Despite being a small island, Madeira packs a horticultural punch, thanks to fertile volcanic soil and centuries of visiting sailors - from the Laurisilva forest to the imported purple-blossomed jacaranda trees, orchids and bird of paradise plants. In short, it is a plant-lover's paradise, and April is the best month to visit as the flowers are in full-bloom.
On this exclusive seven-night tour, you will visit many of the island's best gardens, including the oriental Monte Palace Tropical Garden, set on a hilltop overlooking Funchal Bay, and the botanical gardens of Quinta Jardins do Lago, which showcase some 500 species of flora from as far afield as Australia, Brazil and Madagascar. You'll also visit the fabulous Palheiro Gardens, a paradise for camellia lovers, and the UNESCO-listed Ribeiro Frio Forest Park.
Joe will join you over three days and accompany you on garden trips, as well as give a fascinating talk and host a Q&A session about his life and love of gardens. Away from the flora, you'll see the towering waterfalls and natural rock pools of Bridal Veil and Porto Moniz; Cabo Girão, Europe's highest cape; the mysterious Curral das Freiras, the hidden mountain sanctuary for a convent of nuns; and the towering Pico do Arieiro, with its memorable panoramic views. You'll wander the charming backstreets of Funchal's old town and the traditional fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, the inspiration for some of Winston Churchill's paintings, as well as relax with afternoon tea at the historic Belmond Reid's Palace hotel and enjoy a tasting of the famed Madeira wines.
As a garden-lover I've always wanted to visit Madeira,'the floating garden in the Atlantic'. I'm expecting to see variety, drama, and masses of colour too - just what we'll all need after a long winter in the UK!
Reasons to book
Tales and tips from Joe
Monte Palace Tropical Garden
Afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace hotel
Your expert guides
- All excursions, events and garden visits as listed.
- Return flights from a range of airports.
- Transfers to and from your hotel.
- Services of our experienced tour manager.
- Seven nights in four-star accommodation, including all local taxes, with breakfast and dinner.
- Visits, dinner, talk and Q&A with Joe Swift.
Day1Travel to MadeiraFunchal airport, Portugal
Fly to Funchal and transfer to the centrally-located four-star Enotel Quinta do Sol, your hotel for seven nights.
Day2Explore FunchalFunchal, Madeira, Portugal
Take a walking tour of the historic centre of Funchal, overlooking the spectacular harbour and boasting grand 18th-century buildings with shaded courtyards. You'll also enjoy a tasting of Madeira wine. This afternoon we visit the renowned Botanical Gardens at Funchal.
Day3Eastern MadeiraMachico, Portugal
Explore the eastern seaboard, passing craggy coastlines and ancient forests. We call at sleepy Porto da Cruz and Santana, then discover the ancient Laurisilva forest of the UNESCO-listed Ribeiro Frio National Park.
Day4Curral das Freiras & Câmara de LobosCurral das Freiras, Portugal
Visit the Curral das Freiras, or the Valley of the Nuns, the remote mountain hideaway of a convent of nuns. Then we head to Câmara de Lobos, a charming fishing village.
Joe joins us for a tour of the Monte Palace Tropical Garden. The Oriental gardens are exquisite, complete with Asian-style bridges, arches and a pond filled with koi carp. They also house a historic tile collection. In the afternoon we visit the Botanical Gardens at Quinta Jardins do Largo before dinner at the hotel and a talk by Joe.
Day6PalheiroQuinta do Palheiro gardens, Portugal
This morning we visit Palheiro Gardens accompanied by Joe. Set in the hills overlooking Funchal, Palheiro was laid out in the early 19th century for the Count of Carvalhal before being acquired in the early 20th century by the Blandy family, famous wine producers. Over the next decades, the gardens were populated with thousands of plants from around the world, all flourishing in Madeira's rich soils and clement weather.
Day7Free dayCurral das Freiras, Portugal
The whole day is free to use the hotel's facilities or explore Funchal.
Day8Return homeMadeira Airport, Portugal
Transfer to the airport for your return flight.
Enotel Quinta do Sol
Laid-back hotel set in lush gardens overlooking the Atlantic Ocean
Enotel Quinta do Sol lies only a 15-minute walk from Funchal ferry terminal, 2 km from the 15th-century Cathedral of Funchal and 4 km from the lively Praia Formosa. Some rooms feature balconies with sea views and gorgeous seating areas. Breakfast is served in a bright restaurant and the hotel additionally features an outdoor pool area with sunloungers, a gym and a heated pool, plus a spa complex with sauna.
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