For centuries Madeira was at the crossroads of the world - half-way between the tropics and the old continent. The islanders were poised to receive plants from far-flung empires and accommodate ideas from both north and south. In such a climate, growth is phenomenal and streets and squares are filled with magnificent trees (jacarandas, flame-trees and rosewoods) let alone the oozing dragon trees.
Some thirty gardens in and around the capital, Funchal, and further afield as well as some of the unique native flora and landscape are expertly described. Luckhurst also explores the discovery and development of the island and its earliest gardens, and the role of Portuguese aristocrats and British wine merchants in creating the country estates known as quintas.