One of the amazing things that strike most people about Sri Lanka are the huge differences in landscape and climate that such a small country boasts. Following on from my previous post about my trip to the Tea Country with Ceylon Tea Trails, there is one such thing which I want to share with you and that is the absolute abundance of beautiful flora in the Hill Country (AKA Tea Country).
We were staying at an elevation of 4,025 feet (1,227 metres) and in complete contrast to the South Western coast where I live normally, there were no coconut trees and paddy fields to speak of.
What we saw instead were luscious green hills carpeted with tea bushes as far as the eye could see, tall pine trees towering over mountains with waterfalls and amazing flowers that would not look out of place in royal stately gardens in the UK.
Many of these plants are not indigenous to Sri Lanka and were imported (as were the failed coffee crops and the hugely more successful tea!) to the island by the British.
Scotsman James Taylor is attributed to planting the first tea estate in Sri Lanka. It was in 1867 that Taylor planted 20 acres of tea on the Loolecondera estate (of which he was superintendent). It was here he perfected the technique of fine plucking – `two leaves and a bud.’
“Ceylon tea became the front-runner of the industry and was much loved for its unmatched quality and variety. The alchemy of land, sun and rain in the Paradise Island of Ceylon, as it was known then, presented the ideal climatic conditions for cultivation of tea. Ceylon added a new dimension to tea by producing variations in taste, quality, character and appearance, largely based on the territory of the region. Ceylon tea with its distinct taste and character became every consumer’s favourite cuppa.” – courtesy of Dilmah Tea.
With the British tea planters came their wives who I imagine had a vital role to play in some of the beautiful floral displays which can be seen to this day. Created by a touch of home-sickness perhaps or simply to stay busy but the ideal climatic conditions in the Tea Country means that their initial efforts are still currently enjoyed by many and will continue to please in the future.
One flower which is local – the Hibiscus…although I had never seen a white one!
The evergreens thrive in the Hill Country because of the warm days, cool nights and more than average rainfall. I can’t get enough of the beautiful tea plantations on rolling hills…
Complete with quaint churches….
And imposing but pretty tea factories in the hills opposite the Castlereagh bungalow, surrounded by extremely tall (and in most cases elder than me) pine & eucalyptus trees…
Stunning floral displays everywhere you look…I don’t know the names of some of them. Please inform me if you do!
And this is what it’s all about:
I hope you’re enjoying these pictures as much as we did taking them. Next the incredible Ceylon Tea Trails hospitality!