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Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Program for Forest Conservation is devoted to research, education and extension of tropical forest conservation in southwestern Sri Lanka. It has several endowed programs that enable faculty, doctoral, masters and undergraduate students from the Universities of Sri Jayewardenepura, Peradeniya, Uva Wellassa and Yale to study tropical forest conservation at a field station located in the village of Pitekele and the adjacent Sinharaja MAB World Heritage Forest. Working with villagers and the SLPFC, the fellows learn tropical taxonomy, nursery propagation, and have helped develop a traditional tree garden that provides foods, timbers, medicines, and spices. The garden is being designed to serve as a living demonstration for university curricula and practitioner extension. Once complete, the program will provide downloadable information from the NGO’s website on the cultural, ecological, and economic diversity of plants cultivated in traditional gardens in Sri Lanka. In an ongoing series of posts, Rynearson, Sander, and Luttrell share their experiences of learning about — and then developing — a traditional Sri Lankan village tree garden.
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Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

Two puaks enjoy the sunshine; notice the fruit just below the canopy of the right palm. In Sri Lanka, betel leaf, or “bulat” is among the most culturally significant plants. It was customary upon receiving a guest at your home to present them with a “bulat heppuwa,” a brass tray filled with ingredients used in bita preparation. Before a meal guests were offered a glass of water to wash out their mouths, and after the meal a replenished tray of bulat was presented. Virtually every home had both a “padikkama,” a spittoon, and specialized areca nut cutters. Formal greetings often involved the presentation of a sheath of bulat leaves called a “bulat atha.” Athas are presented by patients to traditional doctors as a form of payment, by children to their teachers on the first day of school, and by devotees to chief Buddhist monks during temple visits. Bulat continues to play a central ceremonial role in weddings, funerals and many holidays. The bulat plant is an evergreen, perennial climber typically cultivated on poles or trellises. There are at least twelve varieties of bulat leaves native to Sri Lanka. It can be grown up to 1,000 meters in elevation on all soil types, but typically grows best on well drained soils, at lower elevations, in the wet to intermediate zones of the country. Though it is most productive in full sunlight, bulat produces higher quality leaves when grown under shady conditions. Many homes in Pitakele village are adorned with wooden structures that are thickly covered in an intertwined mass of bulat leaves. Another common planting site is the base of trees and palms, the trunks providing a live post to support the climbing bulat. Bulat leaves are sold in two categories: large leaves for two rupees (just over a cent), and small leaves for one rupee (less than one cent). They are cut, carried to the house, graded by class, and taken to a nearby town to be sold. Areca, or “puwak” as it called in Sri Lanka, is among the most ubiquitous and abundant species in Pitakele tree gardens. It grows best in full sunlight, but is proficient in establishing and growing under the shade of the canopy. As a result, many homegardens with minimal management tend to develop dense stands of puwak. It is often found planted along property lines as a living demarcation of lots.
home garden design sri lanka 2

Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, betel leaf, or “bulat” is among the most culturally significant plants. It was customary upon receiving a guest at your home to present them with a “bulat heppuwa,” a brass tray filled with ingredients used in bita preparation. Before a meal guests were offered a glass of water to wash out their mouths, and after the meal a replenished tray of bulat was presented. Virtually every home had both a “padikkama,” a spittoon, and specialized areca nut cutters. Formal greetings often involved the presentation of a sheath of bulat leaves called a “bulat atha.” Athas are presented by patients to traditional doctors as a form of payment, by children to their teachers on the first day of school, and by devotees to chief Buddhist monks during temple visits. Bulat continues to play a central ceremonial role in weddings, funerals and many holidays. The bulat plant is an evergreen, perennial climber typically cultivated on poles or trellises. There are at least twelve varieties of bulat leaves native to Sri Lanka. It can be grown up to 1,000 meters in elevation on all soil types, but typically grows best on well drained soils, at lower elevations, in the wet to intermediate zones of the country. Though it is most productive in full sunlight, bulat produces higher quality leaves when grown under shady conditions. Many homes in Pitakele village are adorned with wooden structures that are thickly covered in an intertwined mass of bulat leaves. Another common planting site is the base of trees and palms, the trunks providing a live post to support the climbing bulat. Bulat leaves are sold in two categories: large leaves for two rupees (just over a cent), and small leaves for one rupee (less than one cent). They are cut, carried to the house, graded by class, and taken to a nearby town to be sold. Areca, or “puwak” as it called in Sri Lanka, is among the most ubiquitous and abundant species in Pitakele tree gardens. It grows best in full sunlight, but is proficient in establishing and growing under the shade of the canopy. As a result, many homegardens with minimal management tend to develop dense stands of puwak. It is often found planted along property lines as a living demarcation of lots.

Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

The love for beauty and nature – this is what Sri Lankans are known for, and throughout the years, landscaping designs in Sri Lanka have been influenced by diverse cultures from different periods in time. From plants to irrigation systems, every region of this island nation has been influenced by the designs of the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. Gardening ideas from ancient Sri Lanka have an influence as well.
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Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

English designs are not new to Sri Lanka. Nuwaraeliya, also called Little England, is famous for its English-style homes, but whether you live there or not, you can easily achieve the rustic charm of English gardens by planting a lot of flowers and shrubs. Well-trimmed lots and perfectly manicured lawns go against this garden design, so the more rambunctious, the better. You also do not have to plant every variety of flower that grows in Sri Lanka; one or two is enough, but plant them in huge chunks. Do not be too concerned with structure, and let nature run its course in your design. Do not worry about a bit of dishevelment.
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Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

The Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, northeast of Colombo, cover 147 acres along the Mahaweli River and has allées of more than 200 species of palms, an orchid house, a giant Java fig tree, and a Victorian-style annual garden. Geoffrey Bawa-designed hotels can be found throughout Sri Lanka. The most interesting include the Kandalama in Dambulla, the Club Villa in Bentota, and the Lighthouse in Galle. In Colombo, visit the Gallery Cafe, a chic restaurant that was formerly Geoffrey’s office and remains an enchanting example of his architectural genius. For a completely different experience, visit the town of Nuwara Eliya in the mountainous central region of the island where most colonial tea plantations were established. The town is full of English-style cottages and is a great base from which to explore the plantations (some offer tastings) and see the gorgeous spectacle of tea bushes planted in neat rows along the hillsides.
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Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

Chewing Betel By Blair Rynearson Before coming to Sri Lanka I knew betel only by description. Friends that had travelled in Southeast Asia told of a nut that was chewed by locals that produced the same effect as smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. They said users spit a red juice that looked like blood, and many streets and sidewalks were splattered and stained. Naturally, I wanted to try it. Sri Lanka afforded that opportunity. Within the first week of arriving at the research station, one of our neighbors offered up “bita.” It was a mixture of a hard, pinkish chunk (very difficult to chew), a large and spicy leaf, a white paste resembling plaster, and a small piece of air cured tobacco. I did not enjoy the texture, or the flavor, or my mouth immediately filling with watery saliva. But the effect was quite agreeable — I was alert, full of energy, and ready to do something.
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Home Garden Design Sri Lanka

By Blair Rynearson Before coming to Sri Lanka I knew betel only by description. Friends that had travelled in Southeast Asia told of a nut that was chewed by locals that produced the same effect as smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco. They said users spit a red juice that looked like blood, and many streets and sidewalks were splattered and stained. Naturally, I wanted to try it. Sri Lanka afforded that opportunity. Within the first week of arriving at the research station, one of our neighbors offered up “bita.” It was a mixture of a hard, pinkish chunk (very difficult to chew), a large and spicy leaf, a white paste resembling plaster, and a small piece of air cured tobacco. I did not enjoy the texture, or the flavor, or my mouth immediately filling with watery saliva. But the effect was quite agreeable — I was alert, full of energy, and ready to do something.

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