Formerly reserved for royalty, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kandy have a fascinating history; they were even used as army headquarters during the Second World War. Pepper offers a guided Gardens tour with an expert botanist, who we interviewed about being a local host. Here’s what he had to say…
Pepper’s Royal Botanical Gardens Tour. Photo by Pepper.
What made you decide to become a local host?
I’m an ethnobotanical enthusiast – my knowledge in botany led me to become a host.
Peradeniya garden, Kandy
What were you doing before this?
After I graduated from the University of Peradeniya with a BSc degree in Botany and Zoology, I started working at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy enlightening my clients with my knowledge and experience in ethnobotany.
What qualities do you think you need to have to be a good host?
You should be able to understand the requirements of visitors to the Botanical Gardens. I would say time management and politeness are also important qualities.
Can you tell us about one or two of your favourite moments as a Pepper host?
Among many, meeting Queen Juliana of Holland, the queen of Morocco, relatives of Lord Louis Mountbatten and Prince Diana’s father are my favourite moments as a host.
What advice do you have for people visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens?
To make your visit as enjoyable as it is unforgettable, I would recommend thinking of the Gardens as an open-air laboratory.
What are the challenges of being a host?
My clients come from different backgrounds and from different parts of the world. So, I would say It’s a challenge to give a fully satisfactory service that fits all.
Where is your favourite place in Sri Lanka and why?
Kandy, for its mild climate and homey feeling. After all: ‘east,west, home’s best’.
What is your favourite thing to eat and drink in Sri Lanka and why?
Organic vegetables and Ceylon tea. Why? I would say they agree with my spirit!
Tell us something about Sri Lanka we don’t know…
Biodiversity in Sri Lanka boasts 3,368 species of flora and almost 836 species of fauna that are endemic to Sri Lanka.