This is a statute of Goncalo Velho Cabral, who some say in 1427 discovered the Azores; he was a monk-navigator in the employ of Henry the Navigator. It’s a marvel that these islands in the middle of nowhere in the Atlantic were discovered that early, but they were – that early, or earlier.
The Azores consist of 9 volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean about 850 miles west of Portugal and 1200 miles southeast of Newfoundland. The islands are located on an active triple junction of the Eurasian, African and North American tectonic plates. Earthquakes are common but usually small, and other continuing volcanic activity includes fumaroles, hot springs and boiling mud pots. Sao Miguel is the largest and most populated of the islands. Ponta Delgada, located on Sao Miguel, is the largest city on the islands. The Azores were first populated by Portuguese entrepreneurs in 1439 CE as a small fishing and agricultural village.
When I visited (for the third time this year), it was overcast and sometimes raining in Ponta Delgada. It was a good day for walking and a little shopping and the occasionally ducking into a coffee shop for a cappuccino. The rain made the Portuguese paving patterns in the sidewalks pop. Portuguese paving is made with dark and light (usually black and white) square stone pieces and is similar to mosaic work. The paving practice is said to have started in 1842 when a military commander, Eusebius Furtado, assigned a group of prisoners to lay a zigzag patterned courtyard as a make-work project. The patio made quite a stir and by the end of the 19th century, all new construction in Lisbon had to have Portuguese paving. It is now found throughout the world, wherever Portugal had colonies. Some of the larger pedestrian areas of Ponta Delgada have the most elaborate patterns:
But smaller areas, even narrow sidewalks, are also have patterned pavement.
The last time I was in Ponta Delgada, I walked with a cane and my trekking distances were limited. Now, with new knees, I walk all over the place. For this visit, one of my objectives was to walk up the hill to visit the gardens. There are several gardens, but because of the length of our port stay and the frequent rains, I needed to focus on just one. The garden I visited is called Jardin do Palacio de Sant’Ana. It surrounds what is now the presidential palace of the Azores. The palace is a large coral-red and white structure with classical statuary and suitable gingerbread. It is off limits to visitors to the gardens, although, really, you walk right up to it, around it and behind it and can photograph it from every possible angle.
Jose Jacome Correia (José do Canto, 1820-1898), a native son of the Azores who was a intellectual, scientist, agricultural reformer, and gardener, built the palace and the gardens in the 19th century. Here is an example of allegorical statuary from the palace – a statue of Navigation.
The garden contains many mature trees and palms from many places in the world. They have grown large and lush in the Azorean volcanic soil and humid, ocean-regulated climate. Many of us have seen beautiful flowering bougainvillea vines. In this garden, there is a bougainvillea tree, with a trunk 18 inches in diameter. These beautiful gardens include rose gardens that are not at their best at this time of year, and formal plantings including color blocks created with coleus in multiple hues.
The garden paths are red gravel and curve and twist to reveal spectacular views of plants and plantings.
This pond is a highlight of the garden, with a cluster of papyrus growing in the middle.
This plant is from Australia, a macrozamia; its common name is burrawang.
The plant below is from Madagascar and is a pandanus or pandano, also called a screw palm or screw pine.
These succulents grow with wild abandon on a small embankment along the garden path.