Sri Lanka 7: Kandy Botanical Gardens

Palm Avenue

I’ve witnessed a million bats tear-drop from limbs of a hundred ancient trees, and I’ve heard their godless squawking ringing through mid-morning’s breeze, and I’ve turned to my wife and said I thought these crazy guys belonged to the night.  Why won’t they shut up?

Tree Full of Bats

I’ve strolled beneath the zig-limbs’-zag of squat trees growing themselves horizontal—those who shoot parallel to earth in limbs as thick as oak trunks and twist these addled boughs a dozen different angles in a moment.

Crazy Trees and Pretty Lady

I’ve stepped through clicking gardens of bamboo taller than apartments, through a tiny brick sanctuary for the arcs of orchids whose delicate mouths gape wide for my eyes’ time, through a vine-swaddled fence coddling the ferns of the world to foment deep in their moisture and their dark.  Some beings thrive in shadow.


I’ve climbed my wandering eyes up the skinny stems of the Princess Palms, the stalks thin as my arm but stretching twenty meters tall to heaven and topped with fireworks of green.  I beheld them fail to choose identity: giant dandelions or Seuss-ian sprig-tufts.

Princess Palms

I’ve smiled through the avenue of palms as the broad sunlight smashed my face between the waves of deep-cooled shade.

I’ve crawled over the curling walls of buttress roots, and gawked at golden monkeys threatening to ruin a wedding photo shoot.

Tree Trunk Monkey

I’ve coarsed my fingers across the bark of a dozen trunks of a dozen trees laden of spice, ones that once turned the world on end simply to please kings’ pallets in some disconnected continent.  Flavors now are mass-produced, these trees merely exhibition in the corner of the park.


All this in the confines of Kandy’s Botanical Garden, all in the winding paths set out by British too bored, perhaps, too homesick, too botanistic to do aught but gather the planet’s plants to a single park, to spend their fleeting earth hours somehow coalescing the wonders of all photosynthesizing life into their imitation Eden.

Crazy Trunk

Somehow, in a world without AC and internet, where night was tamed by whale oil and tallow wicks, and home was months of pitching waves away, someone began to gather seeds, and to dream, and to never see the product themselves.

Park Shot

And such are all botanical gardens—it’s not something the young undertake.  It’s a retirement project, a consolation for the dusky years when six days’ labor is nearly run and all one does is dream of how his saplings withering under the unchecked sun might one day shade the sultry world, proffer a quiet respite of trickling brooks and bees, ripen a poet under rampant leaves: might one day resemble paths the God of all Craftsmanship might stroll in the cool of the evening and seek a chit-chat with the ones of his image,

Fat Trunk

ones who work gardens the same as he.

Kandy Botanical Garden stands—more than another point of interest on the hotel tourist map, more than any mention in the paragraph spared it by guidebook banter—a bark-hardened monument breathing the dreams of minds bridling a wild world and recreating an Eden: if not in sinless wonder, as least in all its seeded beings.


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