The gardens of Monserrate were built in 1790 by Gerard De Visme, an English merchant who had made his fortune in trade with Brazil. A correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks he co-funded plant hunting expeditions to Brazil and other exotic locations to provide plants for his gardens. Monserrate was briefly the home of William Beckford and Byron visited and described the house and garden exactly 200 years ago (Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage).
The botanical gardens
The botanical gardens were founded in the 1850’s by Sir Francis Cook, Bt., and developed over four generations (1856-1947). Plant collections include a number of magnificent tree specimens, some of which are probably among the largest of their kind in cultivation: Araucaria heterophylla, Araucaria bidwillii, Metrosideros excelsa, Apollonias barbujana, Agathis robusta. The garden contains fine palms and tree ferns and some cycads including an enormous Lepidozamia peroffskyana. Garden restoration work is currently underway; in 2009 the succulent plant collections known historically as “Mexico” were reconstructed, in the coming year it is planned to reinstate the ornamental ponds, rose garden and tree fern valley.
Highlights of montserrate park
The historical gardens of the Palace of Monserrate are considered one of the most important English landscape gardens beyond the shores of the British Isles and one of the most beautiful landscaped creations of the Romantic period in Portugal. The higligths are the following: