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The Best Garden in Asia

The Best Garden in Asia
Hug a tree at Peradeniya’s Royal Botanical Gardens.

Glorious, drunken avenues of Cook's Pines, Palmyra Palms, Double Coconuts, Cabbage Palms, and Royal Palms lead off into shady dells dating back to the garden’s foundations in 1821. It was created on the site of even older – royal - gardens dating back to the 14th century.

Peradeniya today is one of the finest, if not the finest, botanical garden in Asia; the modern garden set up by Alexander Moon for the receipt and experimentation of plants introduced for commercial development. Moon’s catalogue published soon afterwards listed one thousand one hundred and twenty-seven “Ceylon plants”.

This commercialization of land was the start of a massive period of deforestation in the country. In 1881, 84% of Sri Lanka was forested. In less than 20 years, British colonial agriculture reduced forest coverage to just 70%.

Moon was one of a line of great British gardeners in Sri Lanka, an enthusiastic enforcer of a project begun in 1810 under the advice of Sir Joseph Banks when a garden named Kew was opened in Slave island in Colombo. In 1813 the garden was moved to Kalutara where there was more space for planting, before finally transferring to the better climate of Peradeniya

Today the gardens range over one hundred and fifty acres: 4,000 plant species now fill the space. The Palm collection is among the best in Asia with about 220 species.

The garden’s chief glory is its Arboretum of 10,000 trees, many over 100 years old and relied  upon to flower in stunning colours. Among them is a Javan fig tree that shelters about 2500 square meters of the garden. There is even an arboretum of trees planted by famous people including a huge Ironwood (Tsar Nicolas II); a rather stunted Camphor Tree (Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike); a Yellow Trumpet Tree (King Akihito of Japan) and a Sorrowless Tree (Queen Elizabeth II). A Cannonball Tree planted in 1901 by King George V and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom is however pipped to the post for age by the one growing at The Flame Tree Estate & Hotel.

Its bamboo collection includes the giant bamboo of Burma (Dendrocalamus giganteus), the largest known in the world. yellow building bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris), feather bamboo (Dendrocalamus membranaceus), prickly bamboo (Bambusa spinosa) and Dwarf Chinese bamboo.

The fern collection includes about 100 indigenous and exotic species. The Spice Garden is home to some of the oldest nutmeg trees in the world, these ones planted in 1840.

To arrange a visit please contact the Hotel Office.
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