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Library : Books : Flowers & Gardens of Madeira Last Updated: Jun 28, 2008 - 12:29:23 AM

Chapter 1: Introduction
By Florence Du Cane
May 2, 2007 - 7:43:12 PM

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It is not only to lovers of flowers, who, should they become the happy possessors of a garden in Madeira, will find in it a never-ending source of enjoyment, but also to those who wish to explore the natural scenery of the island, that I heartily recommend a visit to Madeira. Probably no other island of its size has such grand and varied scenery. The island being only some thirty-three miles long and fifteen across even at the widest part, most people look incredulous when told of the inaccessibility of some of its more remote parts, picturing to themselves the possibility of seeing the whole island in one or, at the outside, two days by means of the now ubiquitous motor≠ car. These impatient travellers had better stay away from Madeira, for their motor-cars will be of little use to them, the gradients of the roads being too steep for any but the most powerful of cars, even if the roads themselves were not paved with the most unlevel cobble-stones. To anyone who has leisure to spend in exploring the island, merely for the sake either of admiring its scenery, or making a collection of the many ferns which adorn every nook and cranny of the deep ravines, I can promise ample reward; always supposing that they are sufficiently good travellers not to consider comfortable hotel accommodation as being an essential part of their expedition. Away from Funchal few hotels exist in Madeira; but if it is the right season of the year, and a spell of fine weather is reasonably to be expected, tent-life must be resorted to, or the primitive accommodation afforded by the engineers' huts in various districts, or rooms in the most primitive of village inns.

Enthusiastic admirers of the scenery of Madeira have compared its grandeur to that of the Yosemite Valley in miniature: its mountain-peaks, it is true, only range from 4,000 to 6,000 feet, but the abrupt≠ness with which they rise gives an impression of enormous depth to the densely wooded ravines. In an article on Madeira written by Mr. Frazer in 1875 it will be seen that he also compared its scenery to some of the grandest mountain scenery in the world. Writing of an expedition to the north side of the island, he says: "The beauty of the scene culminated at the little hamlet of Cruzinhas, whence we looked into a labyrinth of dark precipitous ravines, formed by the gorges of the central group of mountains, whose peaks, for≠tunately unclouded for a time, resembled in their fantastic ruggedness those of the Dolomites; but their sides being densely wooded with the spark≠ ling laurel, and the ravines themselves more tortuous, we, I need hardly say, reluctantly came to the conclusion that even the Dolomite gorges could not equal them. There was none of the splendid rock-colouring of the Dolomites, but for deep-wooded ravines of deep mysterious gloom, descending from pinnacled mountains, it is a great question whether the Tyrol must not yield to Madeira."


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