“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment.”
– Claude Monet
Sri Lanka has a number of beautiful botanical gardens that can quench our thirst for experiencing the wonder of a man-made garden. The most famous garden is the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens which is truly beautiful and is also a historically-significant place. Most of these gardens are located in the Wet Zone. We enjoy the climate of the Wet Zone and witness the trees, plants, and flowers that typically grow in the Wet Zone.
However, to experience the natural beauty of the Dry Zone and to learn the types of trees, plants and flowers that grow in the Dry Zone we lacked a botanical garden. The latest addition to Sri Lanka’s botanical gardens, the Mirijjawila Dry Zone Botanical Gardens of Hambantota, fills this void. It is a perfectly planned and built, beautiful garden with mesmerising views, skyscapes, patches of beautiful flower beds, a magical little green house, and a one-of-its-kind cactus collection.
It is a place that one must definitely see.
My experience at the Mirijjawila Dry Zone Botanical Gardens was just amazing. What I felt was as if I had stepped into an oil painting by a French Impressionist – by some unknown French Impressionist almost as talented as Claude Monet and Camille Pissaro. The sky was blue, adorned with white clouds, just perfect as in an Impressionist painting. I walked under this bright blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin.
The cedar and willow trees painted shadows on the grounds, while the lush glossy greenness of the trees was bathed by the sun. My lungs were filled with the fresh air, scented with the fragrance of the many herbal plants.
The trees were whispering. The flowers were singing. The chirp and the flutter of birds and butterflies animated this perfect landscape.
The cannas flowers reminded me of a splotch of freshly-painted crimson red and chrome yellow glossy oil paint. They contrasted with the bright blue sky in the background.
At a far corner, a whole range of bright reds, magentas, purples, and oranges bearing the shape of gerbera flowers sprang to life.
At a far end, the lake, reflecting the bright blue sky and the clouds, added more life to the park. I was fascinated by a view of the shining rough head of a crocodile which was peacefully sun bathing.
The focal point of this painting was where it felt as if the bright white clouds were resting on the bushes beneath the sky. Walking closer I realised these were white bougainvillea flowers all beaming in glory.
I walked out of the painting, returning to the outer world. Yet, the splashes of greens, yellows, blues, and whites remained with me eternally painting my soul. The warmth of the sun will keep my heart and soul warm forever.
No, this is not a dream or a 3D art exhibition held in Europe in which great masterpieces of the great masters come to life.
This was the Mirijjawila Dry Zone Botanical Gardens in Hambantota that I visited last week. Perhaps it would be a better experience than visiting a 3D art exhibition of a French Impressionist.
To experience what I experienced, to colour your soul with an Impressionist colour palette, to feel the smell of herbal plants, why not visit this little paradise on earth?
“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”
– Camille Pissarro
By Ama H.Vanniarachchy