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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/203

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THE BOTANICAL GARDENS OF CEYLON

An attractive plot at Peradeniya is the Kitchen Garden, in which are assembled such "vegetables" as will grow in that hot, moist climate. Many of our common vegetables do well and can be had at all seasons, for example, beans, beets, peas, celery, lettuce and cress. Potatoes are generally small and poor. Sweet corn will grow in Ceylon, but has not thus far come into use. Of tropical vegetables various "yams" are much used, particularly by the natives. The word "yam" is applied to tubers and thickened roots of many different species of plants. Eggplants, different from ours in the temperate zone, are cultivated, also certain plants used, for "greens." Breadfruit trees produce the large heavy fruits of that name, but these would properly be classified among vegetables. Breadfruit is not much used by the British in Ceylon, who, in fact, eat chiefly the same things that they are accustomed to eat at home on their own tight little island.

Thus far we have been considering the attractions of the Peradeniya gardens to the casual visitor. To the botanist they are even more interesting. Every facility is offered by the director of the gardens for investigation by visiting men of science. There is a good herbarium in charge of competent curators and a working library of botanical books and periodicals. Good laboratory facilities are also offered. Although the laboratory for visitors is not fully equipped with physiological apparatus, there are the usual necessaries and it is easy to obtain all ordinary supplies at Kandy or Colombo. Native joiners, tinsmiths and metal-workers can be secured at very low rates to make articles needed. Photographic materials may be obtained at Kandy, only three miles away, and skilled photographers may be engaged to develop negatives or do other photographic work such as making lantern slides.

Opportunities for securing museum material are excellent. Collections of tropical woods properly named are prepared to order by dealers in Kandy. Plant material may be collected from the garden and preserved in formaldehyde or alcohol. Herbarium specimens from the garden can be collected and dried, but the botanist will need to remember that nothing short of the most thorough drying will suffice. It will also be necessary to use a liberal amount of naphthalene scattered through the dry specimens at all times. A native plant collector is detailed by the director of the gardens to assist visiting botanists in getting material from either the garden or the jungle. This man is well acquainted with nearly all of the species in the garden or growing in the vicinity and can usually tell the scientific name offhand, although sometimes he needs to refer to the herbarium. At the laboratory native assistants are provided who clean up apparatus and glassware and make themselves generally useful.

One of the most interesting things about Ceylon is the way in