The History of Palheiro Gardens

After the death of John Burden Blandy in 1912 the property passed to John Ernest Blandy (1866-1930). He met Elinor Reeder from Washington when she visited Madeira onboard the New York State schooner rigged training ship St Mary's, commanded by her father Captain Reeder. They married in Baltimore in 1901 and lived at Palheiro. Elinor cared for the gardens and brought in trees from America - notably Sequoias and Liriodendrons which can still be seen today.

Here's an extract taken from the book Madeira - Impressions & Associations by Alan Lethbridge who visited the Estate or Quinta as it was known circa 1924: "Through the lodge gates that takes one back to an English country house, up a more intimate drive boxed in with camellias of every known shade and behold, the house, the new house, for the old one has long since been abandoned for more modern comfort. It is said that in the days of Portuguese ownership the steward was told to go and count the camellia trees and on being asked how he got on, answered, "Sir, I have counted 9,000 and I am tired, there are many more, so let us say that there are 10,000".

With John Ernest's passing in 1930, Graham inherited the estate and was soon to marry Mildred, born in South Africa. It was her turn to care for the gardens while Graham worked in town and wrestled with the farm at Palheiro on weekends. She was a passionate gardener and imported many plants from different parts of the world notably Proteas from South Africa. It was she who made the gardens famous, opened them to the public and together they entertained many notables visiting the island. Meanwhile, the Casa Velha, the Old House, remained derelict and forgotten and slightly mysterious. But it proved a great playground for children.

And so to the current owners after Graham´s death in 1972. The farming land and forests were turned into the golf course which opened in 1993, the Casa Velha was restored and turned into a hotel and Palheiro Village was built. Adam continues as Chairman of the Estate, his wife Christina (from Sweden) cares for the gardens and oversees Casa Velha, Adam's son Jonathan is Chairman of the golf, the hotel and the leisure activities, whilst daughter Louisa works at Palheiro Village with the property management team looking after the owners and rental guests.