Monthly Report

On a dark and damp early October evening, members of SGC left the wet and cold outside and were transported to the Island of Madeira, purely by words and images. Our talk was presented by Janette Merilion, an RHS-recommended speaker and historian who hails from Lincoln, where she runs her garden design business. 

We learned that in July 1419 Portuguese explorers claimed this landmass as Portuguese territory, which it still remains. On discovery, it was covered in trees, the Laurisilva Forest, which has gradually been felled in parts as habitation has expanded.

Janette took us on a virtual tour of several of the many outstanding gardens, all enjoying a versatile sub-tropical climate, being sited off the north-west coast of Africa.

Funchal Municipal Gardens, which sit high on a cliff giving panoramic views of the harbour, are a home for the Golden Shower Tree - Cassia ferruginea, not dissimilar to our laburnum tree; the 8' tall Euphorbia melifera and the pure white star flowers of Jasminum azoricum.

At the Santa Catarina Park, specimens of Erythrina cristal-gallo (Christ's tears or the cockspur coral tree), can be found - a native of Brazil and pollinated by humming birds. The bright coral-red racemes  are produced in abundance on this hermaphroditic tree.

The famous Botanical Gardens, first opened to the public in 1966, cover 20 acres of indigenous and endemic plants. Papery Bougainvillea blooms are easily recognisable in rich shades of purple and pink.The prehistoric appearance of the very slow-growing Dracaena Draco tree lives up to its name of ‘Dragon Tree’ and attracts flocks of tropical birds, including parrots, flitting amongst the large collection of palm trees and cycads found here.

A short drive from Funchal is Quinta do Palheiro Ferreiro, or Blandy's garden, where the national plant of Madeira, Echium candicans, tumbles over walls with its tall, fat spikes of heavenly blue flowers, loved by bees. My wife and I brought back seed from here 11 years ago and our 6' x 5'plant is furnished with up to 50 blooms in July in our Snitterfield garden - a magnificent sight. Blandy's also boasts hundred of species of Camellia. The  'Lady's garden' here, with well-trained topiary, defies my powers of description, but is one which the ladies may wish to either avoid, or see first. I’ll leave you guessing as to why!

Of the many gardens open to visitors, most are inexpensive or free to enter and Janette ended with her personal favourite: Monte Palace Tropical Garden. 70,000sq.m. of fantastic, exotic planting and architecture.  On show here is the ubiquitous Strelitzia reginae - the bird of paradise plant.  Visit the Funchal flower market down by the harbour and you can have one packed up to take home!


2019 Garden Club Show Winners


A Single Rose                                  Gold  - Peter Robinson - Vic Rawlings Cup

                                                          Silver- Gillie Waldron

5 Single Stems of Mixed Garden Flowers 

                                                          Gold – Gillie Waldron,

                                                          Silver Gwen Smith

3 Dahlia Stems                                Gold - Liz Harrison- Hall - The Dahlia Trophy

                                                          Silver Peter Robinson

3 Hydrangea Heads                        Gold -Jilli Bates,

                                                          Silver Juliet Homer

A table centre arrangement around a Candle – 10” diameter

                                                          Gold Jilli Bates

                                                          Silver – Sue James

6 Runner Beans                               Gold – Liz Harrison- Hall,

                                                          Silver – Gillie Waldron

5 Tomatoes larger than Cherry      Gold – Liz Harrison- Hall,

                                                          Silver – Richard Cooke

6 Cherry Tomatoes                          Gold –Maggy Rogers,

                                                          Silver – Peter Robinson

3 Eating  Apples                              Gold – Liz Harrison Hall,

                                                          Silver – June Mathias

3 Cooking Apples                            Gold – June Mathias,

                                                          Silver – Richard Cooke.

6 Radishes                                           No Entries

6 Plums                                            Gold-  Liz Harrison- Hall.

3 Courgettes                                    Gold – Christine Drake - The Gilmour Cup - Best entry

                                                          Silver – Maggy Rogers

3 Beetroot                                        Gold-  Liz Harrison- Hall,

                                                          Silver- Maggy Rogers

3 Carrots                                          Gold- Christine Drake     

                                                          Silver – John Foster

The oddest shaped Vegetable           No Entries

5 Potatoes                                        Gold – Peter Robinson

Collection of 5 different Vegetables

                                                           Gold – Gillie Waldron - The Best Collection Cup

                                                           Silver Peter Robinson

Pear, Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake  

                                                           Gold – Jilli Bates,    

                                                           Silver – John Foster.

1lb Jar of Orange Marmalade         Gold – Maggy Rogers,

                                                           Silver Gillie Waldron

Photography Class


Garden Implements                         Gold – Chris Chatland - Photography Cup

                                                           Silver – Sue James

I Spy a Secret Garden                      Gold – Chris Chatland,

                                                           Silver – Gillie Waldron

Stormy Landscape                           Gold – Chris Chatland

                                                           Silver – Gillie Waldron.

Fancy Foliage                                   Gold – Alice Helps,

                                                           Silver – Jilli Bates


Challenge Cup for most Overall Points - Liz Harrison Hall