The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Sri Lanka Botanic Garden

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773. A botanic garden was established in Ceylon, in 1811, through the influence of Sir Alexander Johnstone, who was then chief justice of the island. The principal objects of the plan were, to try what vegetable productions from other parts of the world could be advantageously introduced into Ceylon, and to improve the native plants by attentive culture. It was also hoped that the demand for the vegetable productions of Ceylon might be so much increased as to give the natives a decided taste for horticulture. This plan was of more importance, from its being connected with another, which was also proposed by Sir Alexander, and adopted by the English government, for doing away with those restrictions in Ceylon which prevented Europeans holding grants of land in any British settlements abroad, and for encouraging Europeans to become landholders, and to employ their capital in the arts and manufactures of the country. Bishop Heber, when he visited this garden, found it beautifully situated, but not healthy. He was pleased with the variety of plants, and delighted with the splendour of Gloriosa superba, and the brilliancy of the oriental Amaryllideï¾µ. About 1843 Dr. Gardner, so well known for his Travels in Brazil, was appointed to the curatorship of this garden, 'which he found had been so much neglected as to be almost valueless to the colony;' but by Dr. Gardner's exertions, it had become, in 1847, one of the most flourishing and useful institutions in India. (Bot. Mag., for 1847, p. 36.) [Peradeniya Botanic Gardens is in Colombo]