José do Canto (1820-1898) was a cultured wealthy man and a nature lover. Well versed in the secrets of botany, he established contacts with botanical gardens and nurseries from around the world, from whose he bought, sold or exchanged plants.
Since the mid-19th Century he turned his garden, located in Santana, Ponta Delgado, into an outstanding space for the acclimation of thousands of species, many of them later introduced into his landscaped woods at Furnas and Lagoa do Congro.
Still in the 1840s, he commissioned the project of the Park to David Mocatta (1806-1882) in London, a man considered, at the time, very tasteful and influenced by his long years of study in Italy. The project has the date of 1845 and the streets of the Garden maintain until today mostly the design of the initial project. For fifty years, living in Paris or S. Miguel, José do Canto acquired permanent species for the Garden, contacting the largest nurseries of the time in person of by letter. His letters make constant references to acquisitions, botanical parks visited or contacted by letter, nurserymen, merchants and suppliers of the species acquired, (in a letter refers to a lot which, being ready to be shipped from the garden of Algiers to S. Miguel… was eater by a plague of locusts…) prices; transportation of purchases to the Island, (instructions to agencies and even to ship commanders) etc.
The continuous expansion of the park and its botanical enrichment lasted more than half of the nineteenth century. From the 40’s (the project is ready in 1845/46), until 1898 (year of the death of José do Canto). In the highest zone of the property, was built, already in the XX century, Casa do Jardim, a neoclassical style mansion built with tillage stone and stone of the island.
Chapel of Sant’Ana
At the southwest end of the José do Canto Botanical Garden are the Chapel of Sant’Ana and the ruins of the gathering annexed to it, founded in 1624 by António de Frias. The set was classified as a property of public interest. The (former greenhouse) pavilion remains fully integrated in the harden and retains all the primitive appearance of “Victorian” greenhouse. Undoubtedly the largest and most relevant construction of this nature existing in S. Miguel and maybe in the Azores.