I’d been wanting to experience Ponte de Lima’s annual international garden festival for ages but never got the timing of my visits right. Spurred on by reports of all the awards the festival won last year, I decided to incorporate it into my most recent trip to northern Portugal. Although some of the flowers were past their best by early September, the imaginative themed gardens were still fun to explore and I’d happily go back another year.
The theme for 2013 is the Garden of Senses (Jardim dos Sentidos) so as you might imagine, the displays appeal to more than just the eyes and nose. Visitors are encouraged to experience the gardens through touch and sound, too. The sense of taste is left more to the imagination, however. The explanations at the entrance to each garden are worth skimming for nuggets of background information which can help you understand the concept and interact with the different features.
You can vote for your favourite garden and the winner stays on for another year. It was easy to see why last year’s Garden of Plenty was chosen; it’s a complete cottage garden with a myriad of vegetables and flowers. Not all of this year’s entries are of the same standard but despite a couple of disappointing displays, the overall quality is high enough to make it difficult to choose which garden to vote for.
If you can’t make it to Ponte de Lima before the end of October, here are some of the highlights from the 2013 festival.
The annual festival runs from May 31st to October 31st and costs 1 euro to enter. You will be given a map of the gardens and a voting slip.
For more information, visit the International Garden Festival website.