The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

Gardening in Portugal

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524. Gardening, in Portugal, as an art of culture. Portugal is adapted by nature for the easy culture of the vegetable productions of the torrid and temperate zones. But though the first coloniser of India, till within a few years mistress of Brazil, and still retaining extensive African possessions, she has never stood forward as the patroness of botany. Unlike Spain, which, under every disadvantage, has laboured hard for the science, she can boast of but few individuals who, incited either by a laudable curiosity or by more enlightened views, have availed themselves of her natural advantages, to introduce those botanic treasures to which for nearly three centuries there has been access: though, like her, the ignorance, inappetence, and poverty of her legislation, have for years been formidable impediments to the advance of science. An intelligent traveller, speaking on this subject, observes, that 'the same want of assiduous industry, which is so apparent in the culture of the vegetable and flower gardens of the Portuguese, is equally visible in regard to the gifts of Pomona, who has been bountiful in the extreme. There are absolutely no such things in Lisbon or its environs as either nursery-grounds, flower-shops, or gardeners regularly bred to the profession, and living upon its resources. If you desire a root of a rare carnation, or a cutting from any other particularly fine plant, you must either purchase it from the gardener of some rich man, and thus give encouragement to dishonesty, or make up your mind to relinquish your wishes.'