As Sri Lanka’s largest garden an elegant and spacious 147-acres (60-hectares) plenty of time is needed to stroll Peradeniya’s imposing Avenue of Royal Palms at 460 meters above sea level, and with a 200-day annual rainfall.
There are some 4,000 different species of plants at Peradeniya Gardens. The 10,000 or so trees, which are the stars, are mature, lofty giants, many of them tropical timber trees. Highlights of the collection include the Giant Bamboo of Burma, capable of growing to 40 meters height (130 feet) with a 25-centimetre (10-inch) stem diameter. And it can grow by a rapid 30 centimeters a day (12 inches).
Absolutely sensational is the century old giant Javan fig tree, its tentacle like roots spread across the enormous area of about 1,800 square meters (19,375 square feet) a massive central trunk beneath the tree’s vast canopy ‘umbrella’.
The Cannonball tree is also intriguing, with its cannonball-like fruit hanging off the trunk and large open, waxy pink-white flowers. So is the Double Coconut Palm, one of 200 types of palms displayed at Peradeniya – originating from the Seychelles, this tree produces the largest seed known. Its fruits take five years to mature.
The gardens showcase all of Sri Lanka’s flora and representative species from around the tropical world. Luminaries as varied as Queen Elizabeth II , Marshal Tito and Yuri Gugarin have planted trees to mark their visits to the garden.
It is managed by the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture.