Acer campbellii ssp. campbellii
Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium'
Acer negundo 'Argenteovariegatum'
Acer negundo 'Flamingo'
Acer negundo 'Kelly’s Gold'
Acer palmatum 'Asahi Zuru'
Acer palmatum 'Atropurpureum'
Acer palmatum 'Burgundy Lace'
Acer palmatum 'Butterfly'
Acer palmatum 'Dissectum'
Acer palmatum 'Dissectum Atropurpureum'
Acer palmatum 'Garnet'
Acer palmatum 'Osakazuki'
Acer palmatum 'Seiryu'
Acer palmatum 'Senkaki'
Acer palmatum 'Shigitatsu Sawa'
Acer palmatum 'Shishigashira'
Acer palmatum 'Trompenburg'
Acer platanoides 'Crimson King'
Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum'
Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula'
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wisselii'
Cryptomeria japonica 'Cristata'
Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea'
Ficus benjamina 'Starlight'
Magnolia denudata 'Yellow River'
Magnolia x soulangeana 'Brozzonii'
Magnolia x soulangeana 'Burgundy'
Magnolia x soulangeana 'Lennei'
Magnolia x soulangeana 'Rustica rubra'
Metrosideros excelsus 'Aureus'
Metrosideros kermadecensis 'Variegata'
Picea pungens 'Niemetz'
Pittosporum eugenioides 'Variegatum'
Pittosporum tenuifolium 'James Stirling'
Platanus x hispanica
Prunus cerasifera 'Pissardii'
Quercus x turneri
Agapanthus praecox ssp. orientalis
Aspidistra elatior 'Milky Way'
Aspidistra elatior 'Variegata'
Canna × generalis
Canna 'Tropical Red'
Canna 'Tropical Rose'
Canna 'Tropical Salmon'
Canna 'Tropical White'
Canna 'Tropical Yellow'
Crinum x powellii
Crinum x powellii 'Album'
Farfugium japonicum 'Argentea'
Farfugium japonicum 'Aureomaculatum'
Farfugium japonicum 'Gigantea'
Farfugium japonicum 'Jitsuko's Star'
Hedychium densiflorum 'Assam Orange'
Hedychium densiflorum 'Stephen'
Hedychium x moorei 'Tara'
Hemerocallis fulva 'Kwanso'
Hippeastrum reticulatum var. striatifolium
Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'
Phormium cookianum 'Tricolor'
Phormium 'Dark Delight'
Phormium 'Maori queen'
Phormium tenax 'Veitchianum'
Phormium 'Yellow Wave'
Salvia involucrata 'Bethellii'
Sobralia Mirabilis 'Madeira'
Zantedeschia aethiopica 'Green Goddess'
Rhododendron 'Ben Morrison' (Glenn Dale Hybrid)
Rhododendron 'Golden Sunset' (Ghent Hybrid)
Rhododendron 'Hino-crimson' (Kurume Hybrid)
Rhododendron 'Mme. Albert Van Hecke' (Kaempferi Hybrid)
Rhododendron 'Persil' (Ghent Hybrid)
Rhododendron x obtusum 'Amoena'
Best time to view:
Azaleas: early April to mid-May
Japanese Azaleas: early May to mid-June
Rhododendrons: mid-May to end June
Camellias are always enchanting, whether it is for their exoticism, great diversity of colour and form, the beauty of their foliage or their longevity.
Despite the great diversity of species of the genus Camellia (Theaceae family), only a few are widely cultivated as ornamental garden plants: Camellia japonica, Camellia reticulata, Camellia sasanqua, Camellia saluenensis or hybrids. In addition to these, Camellia sinensis is also of enormous economic importance to the tea industry, while Camellia oleifera and certain other species are important for their oil.
The introduction of Camellias (also known in Portugal as the “Japoneira” or “Rosa do Japão” and not to be confused with the “Japanese Rose” or Kerria japonica of the Anglo-Saxon countries) into Portugal occurred during the Age of Discoveries, in the 16th century, when the Portuguese began trading with Japan and China, where the genus Camellia is extremely common.
Camellias adapted well and can be found over the entire Azorean archipelago; however, it is on the island of São Miguel that the greatest concentration of varieties and broadest genetic diversity can be found. On São Miguel, Camellias are very common in both public and private gardens, often being used as hedges to provide protection against strong winds or to set boundaries.
The Terra Nostra Garden, which is well-known for the diversity of its exotic plants and trees, possesses an extensive collection of camellia shrubs, including both ancient and other more recent varieties. The more than 600 different species and cultivars of camellia found in the garden enrich the natural landscape and create an environment of unique beauty, from autumn (with the flowering of the Sasanqua camellia) until spring, with the flowering of the other species.
Many of the camellias in the Terra Nostra Garden have been identified, right down to the species, and have been divided into distinct areas and set out according to the surrounding landscape and devised in such a way as to facilitate exhibition of the entire collection. As such, visitors can find a camellia garden divided into four distinct areas, filled with cultivars of Camellia japonica, Camellia reticulata, Camellia sasanqua, hybrid Camellia and other species.
Head gardener, Fernando Costa aims to continue increasing the number of Camellia cultivars in the collection by bringing in new examples, as well as hybridisation of existing plants. In doing so, the number of visitors, both collectors and plant lovers, is expected to increase.
Sep - Jun
Best Time to Visit
Oct - Nov
Camellia reticulata & Hybrids
Feb - Mar
Feb - Apr
Cycadophytes (members of the Cycadophyta division and Cycadales order) are a group of very ancient and distinct plants. Frequently confused with palm trees or ferns, these plants differ amongst themselves in many structural, functional and reproductive aspects.
Cycadophytes are slow-growing, perennial plants, whose functional leaves appear in a corona located at the apex of the stem. Cycadophytes are dioecious, i.e., male and female cones grow on different plants. Reproduction occurs by means of bare seeds, protected by fleshy teguments in varied colours (green, chestnut, orange, yellow and red). For this reason, they are considered gymnosperms, in contrast to angiosperms, whose seeds are protected by a fruit produced in the ovary.
In addition to the leaves, whose morphology varies, depending on the species, reproductive cones (of various shapes and sizes) and seeds (of different colours) also contribute to the beauty of these extraordinary plants.
Cycadophytes are considered true living fossils, which, together with the species Ginkgo biloba, dominated the flora of the Mesozoic Era, during the Jurassic Period, and the beginning of the Cretaceous (although they appeared much earlier, during the Paleozoic Era, and very early Permian). However, the current three families of present-day cycadophytes appeared (Cycadaceae, Zamiaceae, Stangeriaceae) during the Tertiary Period, approximately 50-60 million years ago.
Although cycadophytes dominated terrestrial vegetation in the distant past, the situation today is quite different: the three families mentioned consist of only 11 genera and approximately 250 species (although botanists disagree on the exact number). These species are found in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the northern and southern hemisphere; however, the greatest diversity of species is found in Central America. The distribution of cycadophytes in the world includes a substantial number of plants in South Africa, Australia, South America, the southern regions of North America and the Caribbean. The Cycas genus is the most widely encountered, with examples in Japan, China, Asia, Southwest Asia, countless Pacific islands, Australia, the East Coast of Africa and Madagascar.
At Terra Nostra, the Cycadales collection was initiated in 2000 with the visit of Christian Muller, a German traveller, who roamed the world in search of plants of the Cycas genus in order to start trading these species. During one of his visits to the garden, he became very interested in one particular tree (Cunninghamia lanceolata). As a result, he contacted the head gardener to suggest swapping this tree for one of the various cycads on his estate, in Lagoa, on São Miguel, where he had been living for several years.
The head gardener, Fernando Costa, subsequently visited Christian Muller’s estate to acquire some other species. The beauty of these plants made such an impression on him that he immediately decided to collect more .
In the meantime, Christian Muller decided to move to Canada. Fernando Costa then began the search for other people who shared his interest in cycads. As a result, he met Timotheus de Groot, a Dutch horticulturist with extensive experience in consultancy services, and succeeded in obtaining other examples.
The collection reached its peak when Fernando Costa learned that the only European nurseryman capable of supplying more species of cycadophytes lived in Spain. During his trip to the country, he discovered that this person was none other than Christian Muller, who had, in the meantime, returned to Europe from Canada and settled in Spain. Costa immediately bought nearly 30 different plants, which contributed towards the now 85 cycadophytes found in the garden today.
The Cycads Garden was planted in an old orange grove inside the garden, which formed the basis of a small valley created to transport all visitors back to a pre-historic landscape, in which fantastic creatures, such as dinosaurs, lived together with the cycadophytes, which very probably served as their food.
The garden itself is surrounded by a high hedge of Sweet Pittosporum (Pittosporum undulatum) and black or Java plum (Syzygium sp.), which was planted when the land was mainly occupied by orange trees. The hedge served to protect the citrus trees from strong winds, while shielding the remaining ornamental areas. Today, the hedge also helps form a micro-climate that is essential in aiding the cycadophytes to adapt.
The shorter Camellia sinensis hedge, popularly known as the tea plant, delimits the valley where the plants are arranged. This is a shrub-like perennial plant, long cultivated on the island of São Miguel for its ornamental and economic value (tea production).
Between the hedges lies a cover of Clivia miniata, a very common plant from South Africa, which blooms in spring. Its orange flowers offer a perfect contrast with the green of the cycadophytes.
The Cycads Garden also contains examples of Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis), which first arrived at the Terra Nostra Garden, in 2009, as a gift given to one of its owners, Patrícia Bensaude Fernandes by Luís Mendonça de Carvalho, Director of the Botanical Museum of Beja.
The Wollemi pine was discovered in 1994, in a valley located in Wollemi National Park, 200 km west of the city of Sydney (Australia). Like the cycadophytes, the Wollemi Pine is considered a living fossil, since records indicate that the ancestors of the present-day Wollemi pine existed at the same time as the great dinosaurs. This was one reason for the decision to include this prehistoric plant, which has adapted so successfully to the Cycads Garden.
The 85 plants from the Cycadophyta division found at Terra Nostra belong to 8 of the 11 genera currently known and are as follows: Cycas, Stangeria, Dioon, Encephalartos, Lepidozamia, Macrozamia, Ceratozamia and Zamia.
The ancestors of contemporary ferns appeared during the Carboniferous Period, when these plants dominated terrestrial vegetation, covering vast areas with their characteristic green foliage.
Ferns form part of an important part of the Plantae kingdom – the Pteridophyta division, found in a variety of different habitats: in soil, on rocks (such as lithophiles) and trees (such as epiphytes). They are normally recognised by their foliage (called fronds), which may be simple or pinnulate, ranging from light to very dark green, or variegated in colour.
The underside of the foliage houses the reproductive structures of these plants – the sorus, an assembly of sporangia, the organs which produce spores. In favourable conditions, the spores germinate and produce the prothallus, a structure housing the sexual cells responsible for the sexual reproduction of these plants.
Ferns are seedless vascular plants, since they lack both flowers and fruit.
Bryophites (mosses and hepatics, for example) also use spores as one means of reproduction, but these are non-vascular plants, possessing no specialised tissues (xylem and phloema) to conduct water, nutrients and hormones; hence minimal growth. In contrast, ferns can grow to the size of trees.
Water plays an essential role in the completion of the reproductive cycle of ferns by carrying the sperm cells to the ovum in such a way as to permit fertilisation. Flowering plants and conifers develop structures, such as flowers and cones, which may require the assistance of the wind or insects to complete their reproductive cycle. This is one reason why the great majority of ferns are found in humid, shady areas, where water is available all year round.
On the other hand, some ferns possess the surprising ability to survive the most extreme climates, such as deserts and mountains. This is made possible by physiological adaptations, such as increased growth of very deep roots, the development of a hairy tegument covering the stem and leaves to reduce water loss or leaves that roll up, suspending growth while awaiting more favourable weather conditions.
As to their overall distribution, these plants are found in great abundance in temperate and subtropical zones, including the valleys of the Himalayas, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The temperate zones of the United States of America possess more than 200 endemic species; however, the greatest numbers of ferns are found in the tropics.
It is estimated that there are nearly 12,000 species of Pteridophites in the biosphere, but it is likely that even more species of ferns await discovery and botanical description.
In 1990, Filipe Bensaude, son of Vasco Bensaude, decided to renovate the gardens at Terra Nostra. To do so, he contracted the services of horticulturist David Sayers, who, together with arboriculturist Richard Green, surveyed all 2,485 trees in the garden, numbering and labelling them. The trees were pruned to keep them healthy, cure and prevent disease and restore their vigour; at the same time, over 3,000 young trees, shrubs and plants, some of them ferns, were planted to ensure the future of the garden.
In 1994, after the work by David Sayers and Richard Green was completed, the head gardener, Fernando Costa, created a beautiful fern garden in the area on either sides of the stream. This garden currently possesses nearly 300 examples of different species, varieties and cultivars, some of them endemic. The genera represented include: Adiantum, Angiopteris, Asplenium, Athyrium, Blechnum, Campyloneurum, Christella, Cibotium, Culcita, Cyathea, Cyrtomium, Davallia, Deparia, Dicksonia, Didymochlaena, Diplazium, Doodia, Dryopteris, Equisetum, Goniophlebium, Huperzia, Lophosoria, Lygodium, Matteuccia, Microlepia, Niphidium, Nephrolepis, Onoclea, Onychium, Osmunda, Pellaea, Phlebodium, Phyllitis, Pityrogramma, Polypodium, Psilotum, Pteris, Rumohra, Sadleria, Selaginella, Sphaeropteris, Stegnogramma, Stenochlaena, Thelypteris, Todea, Trichomanes, Woodsia, Woodwardia.
The Azores are part of the Macaronesia (from the Greek nesoi = islands), the name given to the group of archipelagos made up of the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verde. These islands share a very special flora, which originates from the extinct forests of the Tertiary and previous periods, particular species, many living fossils from important evolutionary trunks of current flora and the stll important effect of insular ecology on evolutionary structure.
On these archipelagos, the existing endemic forest is laurisilva, whose name derives from the Latin Laurus (laurel, lauraceae) and Silva (forest, wood).
Twenty million years ago, during the Tertiary period, the laurisilva forest was common throughout what is now the Mediterranean basin, Southern Europe and North Africa. However, the formation of the Mediterranean Sea and the subsequent climactic changes throughout Europe and North Africa, as well as the occurence of nine glacial and interglacial periods over the last 2 million years led to the mass extinction of ecosystems and the appearance of new ones with a different ecology and species.
The insular regions that belong to the Macaronesia, which enjoy a milder climate due to the softening effect of the surrounding Atlantic Ocean, became refuges and protective areas for many species characteristic of the laurisilva forest. As such, this type of forest, which is dominated by laurifolius species (trees, evergreens with large glabrous or subglabrous and coriaceous leaves) and associated with a mild climate, gentle winters and summers without water stress, are very important in the Azores.
After being colonised, over time, the native forest of the Azores has been drastically reduced, with the wood of many endemic species being used in traditional cooking and for heating houses, as well as greater use of land for pasture and the introduction of exotic and invasive species.
At Terra Nostra, we have a garden dedicated to endemic and native plants of the archipelago, which highlights their importance and allows the public to discover a little more about the natural flora of the Azores. In this garden, which was first planted in 1994, although some of the endemic plants have been replaced, visitors can still find plants dating back to that year, many of them now the size of trees.