Antonio de Borges

Ponta Delgada- the gardens

I think we’ve agreed that the streets of Ponta Delgada by night are spellbinding, when Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres comes to town.  We savoured the atmosphere that evening, knowing that we had just a few hours the following day to confirm our impressions.  An afternoon flight was taking us onward, to the island of Sáo Jorge.  After breakfast, a left turn from our hotel led us uphill, in search of botanic gardens.  I liked the menagerie we passed by.  Down a cul-de-sac, still more lay in wait.

A small chapel looked down, from the top of the hill.  Some of the balconies were garlanded with flowers as we passed by, and hounds stood to attention, guarding the city shield.  17th century Capela de Sant’Ana is within the grounds of the Jardim Botanico José do Canto.  The gardens had scarcely opened, but a young man directed us up some ancient steps.  As we stepped inside, the gloom was pierced, lighting the wooden altar.

José do Canto(1820-1898) was a wealthy man with an interest in botany, collecting specimens from around the world.  His private collection covers about 2 acres, with palms, eucalypts, a flurry of agapanthus and lots of determined, softly nodding pink lilies, which seem to thrive in this climate.  I admired the bark and patterns created among the trees.  By far my favourite was the enormous fig tree (Ficus Macrophylla), with its fantasy of roots.  The conservatory, hiding in the background, gave it a wonderful air of mystery.

I really enjoyed the luxury of having this tropical paradise all to ourselves, but visitors were starting to arrive and I could no longer pretend I lived in the big house.  Just a little further along the road I hoped to find Jardim Antonio Borges.  A more public space, initially this was a little disappointing, but you had to marvel at the lake and grottoes.  Small cockerels strutted around, calling piercingly to each other, and there was an even mightier fig tree, providing doubtful entertainment as a playpen for adults.

The weather had turned grey again, and just a little damp.  We found ourselves killing time as we waited for the taxi to take us to the airport.  I know it’s not Monday, but what else but cake?