Visiting botanical gardens in one way to enjoy the boundless variety of flora in Sri Lanka !
Sri Lanka is home to quite a few unique botanical gardens. So, if you wish to escape from the bustle of the city, the choice is yours.
Kandy Peradeniya Botanical Garden
Peradeniya is Sri Lanka’s largest garden, covering an area of over 60 hectares. The garden is beautifully landscaped and sits just outside Kandy. Its imposing alleys and secret alcoves offer a colourful and serene escapade at any time of the day.
The garden’s history dates back to 1371 when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne and kept court at Peradeniya near the Mahaweli River.
There are some 4000 different species of plants at Peradeniya Gardens. Among them are the massive Burmese Giant Bamboo with a height of 40 meters, the absolutely sensational century-old giant Javanese fig tree that covers an area of over 1800 square meters and over 200 types of palm trees flanking all the alleys. An exquisite orchid collection is housed in a well-kept orchid house (try spotting the white orchid with an intricate and beautiful little dove seated inside).
A wonderful Japanese garden, a scenic spice garden, a lush fernery, an education centre, a cactus house, etc. are also sure to enchant the visitor.
The garden is also home to a very large colony of bats hanging upside down from tall trees. School children often on a school outing will greet you with a great smile whilst shy couples under umbrellas are bound to elude the crowds.
To cap it all, trees planted by Queen Elizabeth II, Marshal Tito, Yuri Gagarin and the likes are to be spotted here.
Hakgala Botanical Garden
Hakgala Botanic Gardens, situated south east of Nuwara Eliya at the edge of the Hakgala Natural reserve has an area of about 28 hectares.
Originally, the garden was established in 1861 as an experimental cultivation for cinchona, a commercial crop during that time. Once tea cultivation replaced cinchona, the area was turned into an experimental tea cultivation.
It was in 1884 that the cultivation was transformed to a garden and several sub tropical and temperate plants were planted. Today, it is a classic botanical garden with beautifully manicured lawns, a great rose garden and magnificent trees.
There are over 10,000 species of flowering plants here. During spring, thousands of visitors flock to the place to see them in full bloom.
Henarathgoda Botanical Garden
Just over 30 kilometres to the north east of Colombo, close to the railway station of Gampaha, lies Henarathgoda Botanical Garden.
This garden is of importance to the rubber cultivation in Sri Lanka as this is where the first rubber tree was planted on the island. There are still many rubber trees to be found close to Gampaha Town. The garden is also composed of a vast collection of tropical trees, sub tropical trees, wet and dry zone trees.
The garden is a great attraction to locals as it houses a fairly large collection of flower plants and eye-catching landscaping.
Mirijjawila Botanical Garden
One of the newest botanical parks in the country, the Mirijjawila Botanical Park is located between the new Mattala Airport and the Hambantota Harbour. Spread over 300 acres of land, it was commissioned specifically in 2006 to preserve the dry-zone vegetation of the area. Three reservoirs have been constructed to maintain the moisture of the land, while the display of plant life aims to promote ecotourism, give visitors an introduction to botany and facilitate research.
The park was opened to the public only in November 2013, and since then has enjoyed visitors from all around the world. Although there is ample space for children to play around and the staff are knowledgeable, the park is still in its initial stages. Paths have not been marked correctly, and the weather is uncomfortably hot and dry. When completed, this garden will provide opportunities for eco-tourism and economic development of the area. Right now, most plants and trees are fairly new.
A visit to the park may be educational, but the true beauty of the area is yet to uncover itself. For now, you can take a small car and a guide for a tour around the premises.