These magnificent gardens are part of the vast Palheiro Estate. They are open to the public from 09.00 to 17.30 for an entrance fee of 10.50 euros, but as guests of the Casa Velha do Palheiro we were able to access them for free. Shady paths lined with camellia and bottle brush trees and rustling with green lizards meander past lily ponds where frogs erupt from the grass, diving into the water at the sound of footsteps; through beds where traditional British cottage garden plants delphinium, foxgloves and dahlia vie for space with exotic African protea and bird of paradise plants. Delicate fragrances from the English rose garden and trailing sweet pea mingle with the strong scent of jasmine. Spiky palms, dragon trees and aloes contrast sharply with topiary swans and lobsters. Beside the lily ponds a Tea House offers tempting cakes. A visit here is a delightful assault on the senses.
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