Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/197

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY



SEPTEMBER, 1908



THE BOTANICAL GARDENS OF CEYLON
By Professor FRANCIS RAMALEY
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO

"AN English glass house glorified" is the description which a British friend of the writer gave to the garden at Peradeniya, Ceylon. And such it truly is. The brilliant foliage, the strange orchids and pitcher plants, the luxuriant ferns, the uncanny screwpines, are just what one might see in a gentleman's conservatory—only more wonderful and luxuriant, grown taller and more fair. As a "show place" these gardens are not equaled anywhere in the world and as a place of scientific interest to botanists there are few rivals. Hæckel, the German zoologist and philosopher, said of his visit to Peradeniya that in the four days which he spent there he learned more botany than he could have learned at home in as many months of hard study.[1]

Ceylon has been described as a "dew-drop on the brow of India" and so far as position is concerned it is certainly very closely related to the Indian peninsula. In climate, too, and in the flora and fauna, the northern part of the island is strikingly Indian; the same may be said of the inhabitants. On the other hand, southern and central Ceylon has a climate of its own and the people as well as the plants and animals are quite different.

Peradeniya is situated in the center of Ceylon about seventy miles Try rail from Colombo, the capital of the island. There is no town here, but only a post-office and a few scattered huts. The city of Kandy, however, is only three miles distant by rail or wagon road.

In going from Colombo to Peradeniya the trains are slow, but the traveler does not complain. Indeed, he would wish his journey lengthened, for the trip affords a four-hour introduction to tropical scenery which is nowhere surpassed. Any one can enjoy the journey whether

  1. Haeckel, "India and Ceylon," Ch. VI.