His Excellency the Mayor of Funchal, Miguel Albuquerque, is a passionate gardener. Born and raised in Madeira’s capital city, he recalls gardening at a very young age with his grandfather who also introduced many rock plants and tropical plants to Madeira.
He explains, “I have always felt connected to Nature and gardens. I grew up in a botanical culture. In Madeira, even our formal education includes botany. It is important.”
The green fingered Lawyer is particularly passionate about roses. “ I collect roses from the 19th and 20th century. Although I live in Funchal, I have a farm in the North of the island with vineyards and a beautiful rose garden which has over 1,700 roses. We have a fabulous climate for roses. The mountains receive the sun in the day and release the heat in the night, it is like a big greenhouse.
I have all types of roses – Scottish roses, Chinese roses but my favourite roses are probably the Bourbon roses. They have a beautiful scent. I also have over 40,000 tropical plants. The gardens are also open to the public.
“The green revolution is good, as production is high and people are not starving but you can reach a limit with technology and we must remember the old fashioned methods too.
“I prefer to use the Heritage seeds, especially for fruit and vegetables and prefer to grow for taste over beauty.
“We are lucky to have water in proprietary. I have everything in place to be successful. Planning is important and the gardens are organised very well.”
The active, outdoor lover also enjoyed his time in Wales. “Wales is very nice. There is something special about your people and their passion for plants and flowers. It is an important part of civilisation to maintain a link with plants and the environment. I watch your BBC programmes where you love plants but you always want new ones. You need to take care of the old ones too.
“Gardening is good for the soul. It is also very good for you physically; to care of your garden is better than using a stupid boring bicycle in a gym.
“In Madeira, like Russia, we know how to treat sickness with plants; people need to understand where medicine comes from.
“Our forest is beautiful. Some trees are over 1,000 years old and we have 1,226 endemic plants which you will not see anywhere else. Madeira’s forest is unique. The 15th century water channels carry water through the trees like veins. It is beautiful walking country, the weather is always good. It is a good place to connect with Nature.”
See more of Miguel’s rose garden at www.quintadoarco.com