Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Electric vehicle rides beside the lake
Electric vehicle rides beside the lake.
Lake shore
Lake shore.
Water lilies
Water lilies.
Lake with variety of plants and trees
Lake with variety of plants and trees.
Lake with beautiful water lilies
Lake with beautiful water lilies.
The lake is situated in South Drive to the left of the main entrance
The lake is situated in South Drive to the left of the main entrance.
Mimosa sp.
Mimosa sp.
Cereus and opuntia
Cereus and opuntia.
Jatropha podagrica
Jatropha podagrica.
White flower
White flower.
Green leaves
Green leaves.
Variegated leaves
Variegated leaves.
Flower beds
Flower beds.
Portulaca grandiflora
Portulaca grandiflora.
The margin of the lake is planted with marsh plants
The margin of the lake is planted with marsh plants.
Great lawn is the vast undulating lawn area
Great lawn is the vast undulating lawn area.

Orchid House & Gardens. Orchid House offers the visitor a captivating display of exotic blooms of Cattleya, Dendrobium, Arachnis, Oncidium, Phalaenopsis, Vanda and their hybrids. Several hardy tropical orchids including the largest orchid in the world, Grammatophyllum speciosum which produces flower spikes up to 2.5 m long and the Green Orchid, Coelogyne mayeriana may be seen near Orchid House.

Fernery. Adjoining Flower Garden is Fernery. It is beautifully landscaped with intersecting paths and is well shaded by lofty trees draped with climbing vines and creepers. The fern collection includes about 100 indigenous and exotic species including Angiospteris evecta, Blechnum orientale, Macrothelypteris torresiana, Asplenium nidus, Anemia sp.

Great Lawn. Close to Monument Road is Great Lawn, the name given due to the vastness of the undulating lawn area covered by an extent of two hectares. The most unique feature here is the Java Willow or Java Fig Tree (Ficus benjamina) which occupies the centre of the lawn like a living umbrella. The Cook pine (Araucaria columnaris) avenue lines the riverside road bordering Great Lawn.

The Lake. The Lake is situated in South Drive to the left of the main entrance. This is designed in the shape of Sri Lanka. The margin of the Lake is planted with marsh plants. The most noteworthy is the Papyrus of the Nile (Cyperus papyrus). The water banana (Typhonodorum lindleyanum) is also a remarkable species sited here. The Lake is covered with different varieties of water lilies (Nymphaea sp.).

Spice Garden. Shady Spice Garden situated on the right side of the main entrance has a representative selection including cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum (verum)) - the main spice exported from this country, pepper (Piper nigrum) - the most demanded spice in the world, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), All spice (Pimenta dioica), bay leaf (Pimenta racemosa) and nutmeg (Myristica fragrans). Some of the oldest nutmeg trees planted in 1840's are still in full strength.

Great lawn is the area covered by an extent of two hectares
Great lawn is the area covered by an extent of two hectares.
The Cook pine “Araucaria columnaris”
The Cook pine “Araucaria columnaris”.
The Cook pine avenue lines the riverside road bordering Great Lawn
The Cook pine avenue lines the riverside road bordering Great Lawn.
Magenta flowers
Magenta flowers.
Royal Palm Avenue as seen from Great Circle
Royal Palm Avenue as seen from Great Circle.
Chinese bride is on Royal Palm Avenue
Chinese bride is on Royal Palm Avenue.
Chinese bride is smiling on Royal Palm Avenue
Chinese bride is smiling on Royal Palm Avenue.
Chinese bride with flowers
Chinese bride with flowers.
Royal Palm Avenue
Royal Palm Avenue.
Great Circle as seen from Royal Palm Avenue
Great Circle as seen from Royal Palm Avenue.
Cannonball tree “Couroupita guianensis”
Cannonball tree “Couroupita guianensis”.
Calophyllum tomentosum
Calophyllum tomentosum.
White bull with long horns
White bull with long horns.
A tree with hanging cucumbers
A tree with hanging cucumbers.
Cabbage Palm Avenue
Cabbage Palm Avenue.
Royal palms grow on Cabbage Palm Avenue
Royal palms grow on Cabbage Palm Avenue.

Flower Garden. Flower Garden, which is near Orchid House, is laid out with beds of flowering annuals and perennials. The most striking feature here is the ribbon border of showy coleus varieties traversed by a path which leads into an octagonal conservatory with a collection of shade-loving plants. Flowering vines on pergolas and arches adds beauty to the sloping landscape. You can see a collection of Hibiscus and a rose garden within.

Palm Avenues. There are three magnificent palm avenues, Royal Palm Avenue along Main Central Drive (Roystonia regia), graceful Cabbage Palm Avenue (Roystonia oleracea) beside River Drive - the palm trees in this avenue are over 21 m in height and Palmyrah Palm Avenue (Borassus flabellifer) which joins Flower Garden with River Drive.

Plant House & Cacti. Near Orchid House is a small Plant House containing a variety of house plants e.g., Ferns, Begonias, African violets, Episcia, Dieffenbachia, Calathea, Philodendron, Bromelia and Anthurium. A collection over 800 species of xerophytic cacti and succulent plants is exhibited in nearby Cactus House. They include Aloes, Agaves, Opuntia, Cereus, Rebutia, Rhipsalis, etc.

Bamboo Collection. The bamboo collection is along River Drive to the right of the lake. The giant bamboo of Burma (Dendrocalamus giganteus) is the largest known in the world. The stems attain a height of 30-40m and up to 20-25 cm in diameter. The average growth rate of new shoots is about 30cm a day. Others are the yellow building bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris), the feather - leaved bamboo (Dendrocalamus membranaceus) and the prickly bamboo (Bambusa spinosa).

Flowering Trees & the Arboretum. The most spectacular of the Gardens are the flowering trees which come into bloom at various times with peak blooming during the first half of the year. Amherstia nobilis popularly known as the Pride of Burma is the finest and a row of this is found planted near the main entrance. An extensive Arboretum of 20 ha in extent contains approximately 8000 trees. Some of these trees are magnificent specimens which are over 100 years old.

Double Coconut Palms. There are over 200 species of palms in the Gardens. The most remarkable amongst these is the Double Coconut (Lodoicea maldivica) from the Seychelles. This palm produces the largest seed in the plant kingdom. The fruits take five years to mature. These palms may be seen flanking Monument Road, which branches off to the left from Main Central Drive, about 100 m from the main entrance.

Royal palms avenue
Royal palms avenue.
Electric vehicle rides along Cabbage Palm Avenue
Electric vehicle rides along Cabbage Palm Avenue.
Electric vehicle
Electric vehicle.
Cabbage Palm Avenue “Roystonia oleracea”
Cabbage Palm Avenue “Roystonia oleracea”.
Flower Garden
Flower Garden.
Flower Garden is laid out with beds of flowering annuals and perennials
Flower Garden is laid out with beds of flowering annuals and perennials.
Sunflowers grow in Flower Garden
Sunflowers grow in Flower Garden.
Shrubs of hibiscuses grow in Flower Garden
Shrubs of hibiscuses grow in Flower Garden.
Accurately trimmed shrubs add beauty to the overall landscape design
Accurately trimmed shrubs add beauty to the overall landscape design.
Flowering arches add beauty to the sloping landscape
Flowering arches add beauty to the sloping landscape.
Flower bed with orange flowers
Flower bed with orange flowers.
Burgundy coleus varieties grow in Flower Garden
Burgundy coleus varieties grow in Flower Garden.
Burgundy coleus varieties and sunflowers
Burgundy coleus varieties and sunflowers.
Pergola helps while raining in Flower Garden
Pergola helps while raining in Flower Garden.
Flower bed is in Flower Garden
Flower bed is in Flower Garden.
Magenta and yellow orchids grow in Orchid House
Magenta and yellow orchids grow in Orchid House.
White orchids grow in Orchid House
White orchids grow in Orchid House.
Orchid House offers the visitor a captivating display of exotic blooms of Cattleya and Dendrobium
Orchid House offers the visitor a captivating display of exotic blooms of Cattleya and Dendrobium.
Orchid House offers the visitor a captivating display of exotic blooms of Arachnis and Oncidium
Orchid House offers the visitor a captivating display of exotic blooms of Arachnis and Oncidium.
Phalaenopsis and Vanda grow in Orchid House
Phalaenopsis and Vanda grow in Orchid House.
Curtains of plants grow in Orchid House
Curtains of plants grow in Orchid House.
Curtains of epiphytic plants grow in Orchid House
Curtains of epiphytic plants grow in Orchid House.
Red brick wall decorates Orchid House
Red brick wall decorates Orchid House.
It is very humid inside Orchid House
It is very humid inside Orchid House.
Clay pots are extensively used in Orchid House
Clay pots are extensively used in Orchid House.
White buds of an orchid
White buds of an orchid.
Yellow flowers of an orchid
Yellow flowers of an orchid.
This flower fountain is located near Orchid House
This flower fountain is located near Orchid House.
The most striking feature of Flower Garden is a footpath traversing a ribbon of showy coleus varieties
The most striking feature of Flower Garden is a footpath traversing a ribbon of showy coleus varieties.
An abundance of coleus varieties
An abundance of coleus varieties.
Green tropical plants
Green tropical plants.
Orchid House
Orchid House.
Middle-sized shrubs bloom near Orchid House
Middle-sized shrubs bloom near Orchid House.
Hanging lobster claw “Heliconia rostrata”
Hanging lobster claw “Heliconia rostrata”.
Tiny magenta flowers
Tiny magenta flowers.
An ancient tree with a thick trunk
An ancient tree with a thick trunk.
A low palm tree with fruits
A low palm tree with fruits.
Huge trees
Huge trees.
Low palm trees
Low palm trees.
An alley is planted with palm trees on its sides
An alley is planted with palm trees on its sides.

The history of the Royal Botanic Gardens dates as far back as 1371 when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne and kept court at Peradeniya near Mahaweli Ganga. Later, in the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe from 1747 to 1780 this was made a Royal Garden and from 1780 to 1798 King Rajadhi Rajasinghe resided therein, where a temporary residence was erected for him.

A vihara and dagoba were built in the reign of King Wimaladharmasuriya which was improved by King Rajadhi Rajasinghe. These were destroyed by the English when they occupied Kandy. The famous historical battle of Gannoruwa between King Rajasinghe II and the Portuguese was fought on the Northern side of the river. A priest resided here till the Gardens were formed by Mr. Alexander Moon in 1821 six years after the final conquest of the Kandyan Kingdom.

In 1810 under the advice of Sir Joseph Banks a garden named Kew was opened in Slave island and Mr. William Kerr was appointed as its Superintendent. In 1813 the garden was moved to Kalutara for the reception of economic plants which could be cultivated there on a larger scale than was possible at Slave Island. Kerr died in 1814 and under the rule of his successor Mr. Alexander Moon this Garden was finally moved to Peradeniya in 1821 as it was found to be favourable and better adapted for the proposed Botanic establishment. The transfer of exotics from the Kalutara Garden was made by successive Superintendents at least up to 1843.

During Moon's superintendence the opening of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, can be said to have commenced though at first only the Southwest portion of the Gardens was cleared and opened and it was mostly planted with cinnamon and coffee. Moon published his "Catalogue of the Indigenous & exotic plants growing in Ceylon" in 1824, in which was given the Botanical and native names of 1127 plants, indigenous to the island. After the appointment of Mr. George Gardner in 1844 the institution started upon its more active independent and useful existence that it has since maintained. Only 40 acres of the 147 acres were in cultivation when Gardner took charge and the major use of the land was to grow jak, coconuts and vegetables for sale by the Government Agent in Kandy. New roads were opened, much jungle cleared and many new plants introduced. Gardner's main work was the exploration of the flora of the country and many native plants were introduced to the collections. He died at Nuwara Eliya in 1849 and was succeeded by Dr. G.H.K. Thwaites who for over 30 years maintained the Gardens in a high state of efficiency, developed landscape features, made it famous as a scientific institution by added knowledge of the island flora, and gave the establishment its world-wide reputation. He published the knowledge accumulated through "Enumeratio Plantarum Zeylanieae". Botanic Gardens at Hakgala was established in 1861 for introduction of Cinchona into the island and in 1876 Gampaha (Henarathgoda) botanic garden was started for the introduction of Rubber.

Thwaites was succeeded by Dr. Henry Trimen, under whose rule and capable management the beauty and usefulness of the Gardens were considerably advanced. He established the Museum of Economic Botany, opened branch Gardens at Badulla and Anuradhapura and began the publication of his work, "The Flora of Ceylon" which however was finished by Sir Joseph D. Hooker after Trimen's death in 1896. In 1896 Trimen was succeeded by Dr. J.C. Willis and from that date a new extension of scientific work took place. In the early years work was mainly directed towards the introduction and acclimatization of useful and ornamental plants but in later years activities developed towards Economic botany and Agriculture and led to the development of the Department of Agriculture in 1912. Mr. H.F. Macmillan who was appointed Curator in 1895, was made the Superintendent of Botanic Gardens in 1912 and Mr. T.H. Parsons the Curator in 1914. During Macmillan's superintendence the Gardens were improved and extended and his great work "A Hand Book of Tropical Planting and Gardening" was published. Macmillan retired in 1925 and Mr. Т.H. Parsons continued as Curator till 1945. Mr. D.M.A. Jayaweera who was appointed as the Superintendent in 1945 contributed a lot to our knowledge on medicinal plants and orchids of Sri Lanka. Mr. D.T. Ekanayake who became the Superintendent in 1971 pioneered trends in floriculture in Sri Lanka. After 1983 Mr. D.B. Sumithraarachchi improved the condition of the botanic gardens tremendously and conducted much useful taxonomic work until leaving the gardens in 1998.

In 1998 Dr. D.S.A. Wijesundara was appointed as the director of the division of Botanic Gardens. Under his leadership Department of National Botanic Gardens was formed in 2006. He became the director general of the new department. During his period two new botanic gardens were established. Mirijjawila Dry zone Botanic Gardens (near Hambantota) was established in 2006, which is the first botanic garden initiated after independence. This 300-acre garden will be the largest in Sri Lanka specializing on the conservation of dry and arid zone plants.

Plans are underway to establish 5 more botanic gardens to conserve flora of the different floral regions of Sri Lanka.

Today, the Botanic Gardens are responsible for the management and development of Botanic Gardens, National Herbarium, Medicinal Plant Garden, gardens attached to the official residences and offices of His Excellency the President, the Hon. Prime Minister, Commonwealth War Cemeteries.

The objectives of Royal Botanic Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens at a glance