We’ve visited some beautiful botanical gardens in the past and we wanted to see how Kandy’s compared. Besides, when we read that there was a spice garden near the main entrance, we wanted to be sure to make a visit. It also seemed a great place to get some peace and quiet after our first day in Kandy spent strolling around the lake with roaring traffic passing to our right and then enduring the bustling streets of the city centre with the busy market nearby.
The spice garden surprised me because it was mostly filled with large trees, why ever did I think it would look a little like a vegetable garden, duh? It was wonderful to see green cloves still on the branches, nutmeg hanging from stems, the rusty-brown cinnamon bark exposed where someone had cut away the outside layers and the aromatic bay tree whose leaves we were informed are used to make bay rum. I wondered if these were the same leaves that we buy, dried, to use in making pickles and to flavour stews. The shape of the green leaves looked correct, but more research will be needed.
We visited the orchid garden and enjoyed the familiar blooms on display however I was thrilled to see a few varieties that I don’t remember seeing before. From there we wandered into the small flower garden, it was soon clear that flowers were not the main focus of this 60-hectare garden. Luckily, our Lonely Planet guidebook had a full-page map of the site and the major trees that are must-sees were all clearly marked. We spent the balance of the afternoon walking along the beautiful palm-lined paths seeking out the dramatic trees one by one.
We finished off our visit with a walk through the Medicinal Garden where most of the plants were ones we had never seen before either. Arrowroot, vanilla, castor-oil, turmeric and indigo, nothing looked at all like one would imagine. This part of the botanical garden was in the full sun, away from the shady paths we’d walked earlier and that blast of tropical heat finished us off for the day. We were happy to find a row of colourful tuk tuks waiting near the gate to take us to our guesthouse.