There are 18 species of bees in the Azores. These pollinators are an indispensable natural resource in agriculture and for a healthy ecosystem. In short, we need bees and we need a lot of them. The grounds of the estate were unloved or simple cattle grazing land. The only plus (amongst all the weeds and overgrown plants) was that it was an accidental paradise for wildlife, including bees. Our first job was to figure out how we could keep the wild animals living on the estate and help them thrive even while we constructed our hotel. A careful balance between man and environment would be needed.
1. RE-WILDING THE GROUNDS
The gardens of the Solar Branco Eco Estate were in a neglected state when we first brought the property. The grounds were abandoned and unloved, but this did not mean that they were without life. We just needed to balance and think about how they would look as we restored the grounds. You will noice that we do not use “lawn grass.” We use wild grasses, allowing flowers and weeds to co-exist to the benefit of the the bees and other wildlife.
2. USING A NO DIG APPROACH
No back-breaking digging? Nope. Well, sort of. The idea is that we can layer up rather than extensively dig down to cultivate soil. We need to consider how nature grows herself, how leaves and other bits of organic matter fall to the ground, and how animals and microbes move these bits of nature about by eating, pooping, tunneling, depositing seeds—all without tilling the soil. The concept is that by not massively disturbing and harming the soil, we are protecting and nurturing the soil ecosystem, which in turn helps our gardens and plants grow.
3. LIVING ROOTS IN THE GROUND
“Living roots assist in feeding the soil ecosystem.” Our aim is to plant our trees for the benefit of the gardens and then leave them alone. We carefully plant the trees at the right time of year and then leave them to do what they need to do.
4. PLANT WITH PURPOSE
We encourage everyone to plant with biodiversity in mind. The perfect grass seen on so many lawns is good for show but is no good for the wildlife. In the 1940’s US agricultural companies started to market the idea that flowers in grass was ugly. Mow your front garden every week for the American Dream. This has caused a collapse in biodiversity. But we can make a change. By nurturing biodiversity through growing a diverse range of grass and including natives and perennials in our gardens. You might think your tiny garden doesn’t matter, but it really does; all the small spaces add up to create interconnected networks that support more life.
5. GARDEN ORGANICALLY
Rewilding goes beyond organic gardening. It includes the major tenants to garden without using harmful pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilisers. Not everything will grow as quickly as we might like, it requires a little bit of patience but the end result is our green areas behave more like garden ecosystems.”
6. THINK LIKE AN ECO SYSTEM FOR THE BEES
One of the most important and fundamental ideas we have for the gardens is to think like a natural eco system. This means a range of different plants and trees for different wildlife. We plant a varied range of flowers that will help bees all year round. Hedging plants and fruit trees feed the birds in all seasons. This use of our land benefits the wildlife ad gives us so much pleasure to see and experience.
Refund Policy / Terms and Conditions
If you would like to tour the gardens we ask that you call / Whatsapp in advance as we cannot guarantee availability due to other commitments