Dry Zone Botanic Gardens – Mirijjawila ( Hambantota )
Dry Zone Botanic Gardens in Mirijjawila is the leading botanic garden in Sri Lanka designed by local experts. The primary botanic garden built after Botanic Garden at Gampaha was built 130 years ago. This premier botanic garden in Sri Lanka began in a semi-arid zone to maintain semi-arid and dry zone plants ex-situ as one of the primary objectives. The other main goals are to conduct studies on plants and promote economic development in the region.
Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is the most comprehensive botanic garden in Sri Lanka in terms of space, and the size is 300 acres. An area designated for the oil refinery project has been implemented to create Dry Zone Botanic Gardens in 2006. This land had been treated with prickly shrubs and abandoned Chena lands when it was designated to develop the botanic garden. A few decades before, these lands had been used to grow cotton. This would be the main reason exist thorny shrubs in the area instead of a forest. But, the botanic garden has a few natural shrublands to show the existing plants and conduct research.
Location and Opening Hours
The Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is in Mirijjawila, just outside Hambantota in Sri Lanka's Southern Province. The gardens are open daily from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm, and entrance fees are very reasonable.
History of the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens
The Dry Zone Botanic Gardens was established in 2006 by the Department of National Botanic Gardens of Sri Lanka. The gardens were created to showcase the diversity of plant life in the country's dry zone, which covers much of the Northern, Eastern, and Southern Provinces.
The Garden's Unique Features
The Dry Zone: One of the most remarkable things about the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is its focus on the dry zone ecosystem. The garden's design is meant to mimic the natural landscape of this region, which is characterized by arid and semi-arid climates. As a result, visitors can explore flora and fauna unique to this area, including cacti, succulents, and thorny shrubs.
The Orchid House: If you're a fan of orchids, you will want to attend the Orchid House at the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens. This exhibit features dozens of orchid species, including many indigenous to Sri Lanka. The Orchid House is a favourite among visitors and is one of the most popular areas in the garden.
The Medicinal Garden: Another unique feature of the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is its Medicinal Garden. Here, visitors can learn about the various plants that have medicinal properties and their traditional uses in Sri Lankan medicine. The garden also features a collection of Ayurvedic plants commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine.
The Bonsai Collection: If you're a fan of bonsai trees, you'll love the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens collection. This exhibit features dozens of miniature trees carefully cultivated to resemble their full-sized counterparts. Visitors can learn the techniques used to grow and maintain these stunning specimens.
The Palm Garden: The Palm Garden at the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is home to various palm trees, including some very rare. Visitors can wander through the garden and learn about the different palm species and their uses.
The Importance of Conservation
One of the primary goals of the Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is to promote conservation and protect endangered plant species. The garden's active seed bank program collects and preserves seeds from rare and endangered plants. The garden also participates in conservation efforts through partnerships with local organizations.
Things to Do and See
Guided Tours: The Dry Zone Botanic Gardens offers guided tours for visitors who want to learn more about the garden's unique features and conservation efforts. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who can answer your questions and provide fascinating insights into the plants and wildlife found in the garden.
Picnic Areas: The garden has several picnic areas where visitors can relax and enjoy a meal surrounded by beautiful scenery. These areas are perfect for families or groups of friends who want to enjoy a day out in nature.
Nature Trails: The Dry Zone Botanic Gardens has several nature trails that wind through the garden's different sections. These trails are a great way to explore the garden's unique features and get up close to the plants and wildlife. You may even spot some rare bird species along the way.
Bird Watching: The Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is excellent for bird watching. The garden is home to many species of birds, including some very rare. You can see them in their natural habitat and learn more about their behaviour and habits.
How to Get There
The Dry Zone Botanic Gardens is located about 10 kilometres from Hambantota. Visitors can reach the garden by car or by taking a tuk-tuk. If you're coming from Colombo, it's about a four-hour drive to the garden.
Tips for Visiting
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing, as a lot of walking involves.
- Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as it can get very hot.
- Remember your camera, as the garden has many great photo opportunities.
- Book in advance to ensure availability if you're interested in guided tours.
- Respect the plants and wildlife, and follow any rules or guidelines posted throughout the garden.