garden

A view from the lawn of the the house at GlenMyu Estate, Hotel and Bed & Breakfast, Haputale, Sri Lanka.

5 things I love about gardening.

5 things I love about gardening.

5 things I love about gardening.

From London banker to unpaid gardener in Sri Lanka.

The money is lousy but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

When I moved to Sri Lanka, I did not envisage ending up changing my office job for one outdoors.

A career banker, based in and around London, I had no idea where I would end up.
My destination was working for free on the 5 acre estate  in Sri Lanka that we have developed into GlenMyu.

I had little experience as a gardener in London. Why would I when the only outside space was a small terrace? There was very little room to plant anything at all!
I had little idea also that I would end up having a love for gardening and don’t find it like work at all.

1. Things I love about gardening- Gardening is my form of meditation.

I get lost in my thoughts as I use my brush cutter keeping the pathways and lawn in good shape.

It’s amazing how calming and relaxing it is. I do make sure that I am alert enough not to have an accident though, so it’s not like I’m in a trance. 

Maybe the hum from my brush cutter through the ear plugs I use gives a sense of comfort. 

Trying to get the grass as even I as I can do, on the hill country slopes, is my continuous focus.

I don’t practice meditation, however, this is the closest I get. I love it!

2. Making the GlenMyu Estate garden look good, makes me feel good!

I take a lot of pride in my work and try to make the grounds as attractive as possible.

When guests say that the garden looks good, I feel good. Actually I feel great. It makes all my efforts worth it.

I say my efforts, however there is a team at GlenMyu Estate who all contribute to making the garden look good. 

Ru is the designer of the garden (and most things) at GlenMyu Estate. Some of our daily workers are so adept at using the besom to sweep up the grass cuttings and leaves, I could never be as efficient or fast.

Doesn’t everyone like a pat on the back for the work that they have done?. 

3. I get to feel closer to nature and I feel that I am improving the estate as a home for wildlife.

One of our aims at GlenMyu Estate is to restore the land from an abandoned tea estate to a home for wildlife. Encouraging biodiversity on the land which makes it a healthy place for plants and animals to visit and live. 

GlenMyu Estate was part of a larger abandoned tea estate prior to being bought by my wife. It had also been a sugar cane estate which had failed when the government started to import sugar cane. 

Over the years the land was overrun by Guinea Grass which was brought in during Colonial times as a fast growing cattle feed.  This fast growing plant takes th light and nutrients from the endemic plants of Sri Lanka and dominates the landscape. It is not a good environment to welcome biodiversity.

Out with the old, in with the new. Things I Love aboutgardening

We have slowly removed the Guinea Grass over the years and replaced the plants with a fruit forest to feed us and the animals. Hundreds of endemic species have been planted and are starting to establish themselves on the five acre estate.

We regularly see dragon flies during the day, a variety of butterflies and some fireflies at night. This, we understand, shows that the land is healthy. 

There are no chemicals or pesticides used at the estate and everything that we grow is organic.

4. Things I love about gardening -Getting to enjoy the fruits of my work.

It’s a pleasure walking around the garden on attractive paths and weed free borders.  

The order calms the mind and allows me to concentrate on the nature that surrounds me.

Listening to the birdsong, watching the parrots flit from tree to tree and the Kingfisher fish in our stream.

The sound of the water softening any vehicle noise, the feel of the ground on my bare feet and playing with the dogs on the lawn.

A landscape that could be painted.

An inspiring landscape which brings out my hidden artistic side which was out of sight during my banking career.

One of the best things about GlenMyu Estate is our swimming pool

The pool is fed by a natural spring and the only heating is from the daytime sun. 
We don’t add chlorine to the water so I swim in a completely natural environment.

An evening swim is refreshing and eases the muscles that I have used during the day.

Finishing off the evening with a well deserved bottle of local Lion lager beer puts icing on the cake!

Our dogs turn up from time to time looking for a petting.
Maali our cow comes over and looks for her head to be patted. It’s as if she just wants me to remember she is around.

I sometimes have to chase the Eagles when it perches on branch eyeing our chickens and ducks.

Moving on the monkeys when they are trying to eat our Jackfruits, Mangos and Avocados when they are in season (don’t worry there is plenty for them to eat on the periphery of the estate).

There are lots that I love about gardening at GlenMyu Estate.

It's more than just cutting the lawn.

I don’t just cut the lawns and paths around the estate in my gardening duties. 

Cutting and replanting coleus, cutting down fallen branches and general weeding is all part of my day in the garden. 

It’s great to get variety in my day.

5 things I love about gardening - Summary

  1. Gardening is my form of meditation.
  2. Making the GlenMyu Estate garden look good, makes me feel good!
  3. I get to feel closer to nature and I feel that I am improving the estate as a home for wildlife.
  4. Getting to enjoy the fruits of my work.
  5. The reward of a swim at the end of the day (and perhaps a Lion lager!).

Stay at GlenMyu Estate and enjoy the gardens.

A stay at GlenMyu Estate as you explore the Sri Lankan Hill Country and see sights like Horton Plains National Park is a unique experience.

We only have three bedrooms and you will need to book early during the peak holiday season.

The estate is usually within an hours drive of the major sightseeing locations such as Nine Arch Bridge, Ella Town, Upper Diyaluma Waterfall, Lipton’s Seat, Bambarakanda Waterfall and many more,

GlenMyu Estate is listed on Booking.com and Airbnb.
Contact us by the WhatsApp button on our website for direct booking rates.

5 things I love about gardening. Read More »

A garden tour for guests at GlenMyu Estate

A walk around the garden

A walk around the garden

One of the many highlights of staying at GlenMyu Estate Hotel is walking around the garden on the five acre estate.
It’s a healthy and revitalising experience and allows you to get a little bit closer to nature.

We have worked with nature in our attempts to provide an environment where guests can feel like they are away from it all. However, GlenMyu Estate is located close enough to great sightseeing around Ella 9i.25 hrs drive), Horton Plains National Park, Lipton’s Seat and more.

The garden is naturally an ongoing project and we are constantly making improvements to enhance our guests experience whilst creating an environment suitable for flora and fauna.

Do we know what we are doing?

We are not experienced gardeners and we believe the beauty of the landscape is as a result of trying something, making a mistake and then trying something different. Nature really has educated us letting us know what plant is suitable for each location around the estate.

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A short history of GlenMyu Estate

Ru purchased the five acres of overgrown land in 2006. We had a brief look at part of the land we could access and Ru just decided to gamble and go ahead with the purchase. Having some streams delivering water and an electricity connection was enough to start with.

The land had been part of the much larger Viharaghalla Tea estate. It was divided and a previous owner used it to cultivate sugar cane. We understand when the government decided to start importing cheap sugar cane the estate was no longer viable. It was left unused for many years apart from the monkeys that enjoyed the fruits from some of the trees, something that they still enjoy today.

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When my wife and I visited the land it was drizzling and it was impossible to navigate around the estate without proper gear and machete to drive a pathway. 

A caretaker with little work to do.

A caretaker looked after the estate whilst we lived in London however, he was just tasked with securing the estate rather than do much work. He grew some vegetables and spices for his own use. Guinea Grass, which was growing wildly over the estate was cut and used for cattle feed. Sticks were cut from broken tree branches and sold to local villagers for firewood. He managed to supplement his income and we were happy with the situation.

When we visited Sri Lanka annually we would come to the land and he would clear a pathway or two so that we could explore a little bit more of the area.

As the grass was very long we were terrified as leeches jumped on us for a quick meal! Fortunately for visitors today they will only meet the occasional leeches on rainier parts of the year as we have cut the grass on the pathways quite short. There are also several concrete pathways creating a safe environment accessing the house.

I was amazed to see coffee growing wild on the land. There were also small but very sweet tomatoes growing in different places. There were some Jackfruit Trees and Mango Trees that had already been established. Some large Mara Trees (Para Mara – Albizia saman f.muell.) and also Kithul Trees (Caryota urens) scattered around the land. Most of the land was wild and really difficult to navigate so I limited my exploration.

Now - what a change!

Roll forward to 2018 and we were based at the land and decided that we would start clearing some of the jungle and make some pathways so that we could get around.

Between 2018 and 2021, when we completed and moved into the house at GlenMyu Estate, there was a substantial amount of work done. We were on site all the time and therefore managed to do something everyday. 

Events that we were not in control of meant that we were not in a rush. The Easter bombings and then the global Covid-19 pandemic resulted in very few tourists visiting the island and therefore we had time on our hands.

Now we feel that by not racing to finish the landscaping, so we could open GlenMyu Estate Hotel earlier, we have a much better offering for guests. We also think that nature would have let us know quite quickly if we had tried to force things.

Pathways so that you can explore the land.

Once you have parked at the drive in front of the house you will be met by the lawn which is surrounded by trees and flowers. We have two different types of Jackfruit Tree on either side of the lawn and we harvest the Jackfruit and use them in dishes for our guests. A Pulled Jackfruit Burger or a Jackfruit Curry are popular with our guests. They love that the farm to fork is almost as short as you can get it!

We had more flowers around the lawn but the introduction of our rescue cow to the Estate has meant that the area has been trimmed! Maali appears to enjoy the buffet we put on for her. You can read more about our rescue cow in the following article “We got a Cow!”.

Walking to the Natural Spring Fed Infinity Swimming Pool.

A pathway and steps takes you to our swimming pool. It’s fed from a spring and is a great place to refresh yourself after a day of exploration of the sights near to the hotel. We love day trips to the montane cloud forest at Horton Plains National Park. 

A trip to Upper Diyaluma Waterfall is a special way to spend a day. Lipton’s Seat, Adisham Bungalow and Bambarakanda Waterfall are also within an hours drive. Ella Town is also around an hours drive and a day trip to visit Nine Arch Bridge, Ravana Waterfall, Mini Adams Peak or Ella Rock are other great day trips.

At the swimming pool you can look across the stream to our interpretation of Lombard Street. This is currently under development and you can read more about our plans in the following article.

Around the house.

There is a grass pathway which takes you in a loop around the front of the house and you can enjoy some seating in a quiet place on the estate where all you see and hear is nature.

You will see some colourful flowers such as coleus and hibiscus withe red petals. Ru often makes a hibiscus and ginger tea for our guests.

Climbing up the steps back to the house you will then find a pathway alongside the lawn where we grow some basil, mint and peppermint (also great as a tea).

Towards the terraces.

On your walk towards the terraces you will come across two varieties of mandarin trees, some lemon trees and papaya trees. Papaya grows quite well n the estate and is a regular offering at breakfast.

You might meet some of our ducks bathing in the ponds as you climb up the steps. We have several varieties of bananas growing on the estate some of which you will see on the left hand side. More banana trees will greet you when you climb the steps and then looking to the right you will see our mandarin orchard. There are lots of other fruits and vegetables that we grow on the terraces and Ru will be happy to tell you when we have growing at the time.

Vanilla Time!

As you climb the steps back up to the main driveway you will see vanilla vines wrapped around the trees. Ru has to hand pollinate the vanilla every morning before 10 am when they are in flower. We use the vanilla and some of our duck or chicken eggs to make our vanilla ice cream.

Looking back to from where we have climbed you can see our Mandarin orange orchard, Areca nut trees and Banana trees.

At the road you will come across more lemon trees (we use a lot!) and you will also see an Avocado Tree. When it is avocado season we are in heaven!

Walking across towards our vegetable garden you will come across some pomegranate trees and some luffa vines. We harvest the luffa and make loofah sponges which are used in the kitchen and bathrooms.

The Vegetable Garden.

We have recently constructed two greenhouses where we grow tomatoes and many other items. GlenMyu Estate’s gardens are fully organic so we don’t use any chemicals to keep pests away. Ru can tell you about what else we have growing in the vegetable garden.

Crossing the wooden bridge

When you have crossed the stream over the wooden bridge you can see more banana trees. Above this area is our pepper and cinnamon forests. They are quite young at the moment and therefore we won’t get a harvest for some years. 

Climbing up the hill on the grass pathway to Whale Rock you will see our clove orchard on the left. The trees are coming on well and we expect blossoms to come in the coming two to three years. According to our research the best harvest is normally between fifteen and twenty years old so we have a while to go!

A dead end - at the moment.

Near to whale rock you will see several avocado, jackfruit and mango trees which I have planted from seed. As these trees are located far from the house we do not expect to be able to eat any of the harvest from these trees and they will be food for the birds and animals that visit the estate.

At the moment we have yet to complete the pathway which will allow you to complete a loop around the perimeter of the land. We will update this article when it has been completed.

Walking back down towards the pool you will come across lots of mulberry plants, the berries of which we harvest every morning (if the birds don’t get there first!).

After you walk around the garden perhaps a refreshing dip in the pool is the order of the day.

A lot more to see on your walk around the garden.

There are lots of items that we have planted that I have not mentioned in this article and they are there for you to discover. Some plants are new to me and therefore taking a tour with Ru will provide you with a more details explanation of what we have in the garden.

If Ru is busy and you get the second class tour hosted by yours truly – I will do my best!

Stay at GlenMyu Estate to explore the Sri Lankan Hill Country

A stay at GlenMyu Estate as you explore the Sri Lankan Hill Country and see sights like Horton Plains National Park is a unique experience.

We only have three bedrooms and you will need to book early during the peak holiday season.

The estate is usually within an hours drive of the major sightseeing locations such as Nine Arch Bridge, Ella Town, Upper Diyaluma Waterfall, Lipton’s Seat, Bambarakanda Waterfall and many more,

GlenMyu Estate is listed on Booking.com and Airbnb.
Contact us by the WhatsApp button on our website for direct booking rates.

A walk around the garden Read More »

Garden tours around GlenMyu Estate

Garden Tour

Garden Tour around GlenMyu Estate

At GlenMyu Estate we find that one of the highlights for our guests is to enjoy a relaxed and informal garden tour around the 5 acre estate.

We are continuously landscaping parts of the estate and we see it as a forever work in progress. It’s enjoyable experimenting with different fruits, vegetables, spices, trees and other plants to see what works in different areas around the land.

Our aim is to reinstate many endemic plants and trees in conjunction with developing a fruit forest. We want to encourage more wildlife to come and live and forage on the land.

Guests enjoying the garden at GlenMyu Estate.

The fruits, vegetables and spices that we grow on the estate are used as ingredients for the dishes Ru serves to our guests. You will see that we have planted all around the 5 acre estate so that the wildlife can eat some of the produce in a peaceful environment.

It’s amazing how quickly some of the plants grow and some of our Avocado, Jackfruit, Clove and  Mango trees have been established over a few years.

We have made pathways around the estate which makes it safe and easy to walk and enjoy the surroundings. There are part of the land which are quite steep so you can get a bit of a workout on your walk during your garden tour.
There are several places to sit, rest and enjoy the surroundings whilst listening to nature provide its’ background music.

A little bit of history to the Land.

GlenMyu Estate was originally part of the much larger Viharaghalla Tea estate and our 5 acres was abandoned many years ago. It was subsequently used as a sugar cane estate. We understand that this ceased when the government started importing cheaper sugar cane making it unviable enterprise for a previous owner of the land.

A lot has changed.

The current owner, Ru (my wife), bought the land almost 20 years ago. It was a real gamble as we could not navigate the 5 acres as it was totally overgrown. It was also raining when we viewed the property and, unprepared for rain, we only ventured in around 200 metres.
Despite not seeing much of the property, the decision was made to go ahead with the purchase, at least to get a foothold in the area.

Although we looked for other lands to buy around the country, something kept bringing us back to Beragala. We eventually fell in love with the area and the search for something better was over.

If you saw the land, overgrown with Guinea Grass (used as cow fodder) and looking like a jungle, you may well have asked “What have you done”.
However Ru felt that the climate, the availability of water and electricity was at least something positive about the land.

There were some large established trees on the land also which were regularly used by monkeys as their playground.

The Climate

What I love about GlenMyu Estate and this little piece of the Hill Country is the climate. Sri Lanka doesn’t have seasons like were experienced in Europe, however it does have 2 monsoon seasons. 

Fortunately for GlenMyu Estate, we are located in a place where we don’t experience the full wrath of either monsoon and are in the Inter-Monsoon area.

It you visit one of the many weather websites you can see that Beragala or Viharagala has an average annual temperature in of 21.3 °C (70.4 °F). The annual rainfall is 1652 mm ( 65.0 inch).

You can see the weather forecast for Beragala at Meteologix or for Viharagala at JustWeather.

Why I love it at GlenMyu Estate!

For me, most of the year is like a reasonable English Summer and I can be in shorts and a t-shirt all year round. We do have some rainier periods (Mid-April until Mid-June and Mid-September until Mid-December) which helps with the garden and the planting we do. 

Climate change however, appears to have had some affect on the normal wetter and drier periods and we can never be certain when the weather will change.

Developing the garden

My wife and I don’t have much experience of developing a garden. And, we certainly didn’t think we were capable of making something that would be of such interest to our guests.

Fortunately, along with the internet and a few books, we have some wonderful neighbours who held our hands part of the way. Some of our neighbours have been living in the area for 40 years, some are botanists and some have developed forests. We fell we are very lucky to have such an abundance of resources and knowledge locally.

The Plant Nurseries (both private and government run) have also been very helpful in providing advice.
There is also a great Ayurvedic Plant Nursery in Haldumulla who supplied many of the endemic plants we are re-introducing to the land.

Also, you will find that the older generation of Sri Lankans have a good knowledge of plants, where they grow and what benefits (including medicinal) they have.

Sometimes nature tells you what you can plant by establishing certain types of trees and plants in the land. We have learnt by trying something in one place and mother nature lets us know whether it will work or not.

Protecting the top soil and securing the slope

As we are in the hill country and there are periods where the rain can be heavy there can be small land slips. One of the most important things we have done is to secure the slopes by planting trees to ensure that the ground has a strong foothold.
One of our neighbours alerted us to creating hedgerows on the land along contour lines which helps stabilise the land.
You can read more about SALT technology on this article by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) 

What will you see on the garden tour at GlenMyu Estate?

Well, that depends on who is taking you on our garden tour!
If I take you I always say to guests that you get the second class tour!
The reason being is that my wife has planned and planted most of the garden (with help from the staff off course!).
Therefore, my knowledge is quite a bit less and although I am learning, I’m sure that there are things that I miss.

Ru showing some guest around the garden close to the Pomelo Tree.

My wife, Ru, normally picks salad leaves and other vegetables and fruits from the garden and sometimes includes this as part of her tour. I stay well away from the vegetable garden – it’s her domain!

Here are just some of the fruits, vegetables and spices that you will see on the tour of the garden. (There are many more but Ru will let you know!).

Vegetables
Yams, Jackfruit, Avocado, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Spring Onions, Tomatoes

Spices
Cloves, Cardamon, Cinnamon, Curry Leaf, pepper, coffee, 

Fruits
Papayas, Bananas, Mandarin Oranges, Lemons, Mangos, Pomello, Passionfruit, Giant Passionfruit.

I have planted lots of trees myself since being at GlenMyu Estate . If I eat a good Avocado, Mango or Jackfruit, I normally save the seed and plant it somewhere on the land.
The plan is to eventually grow a fruit first which will be good for us, our guests and the animals that visit the property. We want to encourage more endemic species back to the property by providing an environment where they can thrive. We have already seen lots of Crane Flies (daddy long legs), Fireflies and Butterflies visit the property to eat. Occasionally we will see some deer at parts of the property that have been left for the wildlife.
In future we expect to see a large variety of frogs and birds come to GlenMyu Estate to forage.

You will see on your garden tour that lots of the trees I have planted are far away from the property. Therefore we are unlikely to be able to protect and eat the fruits from these trees and they will be a good source of food for the birds, monkeys and squirrels.

An informal garden tour - Don't expect Kew Gardens!

We offer the gardens tours to guests that stay at GlenMyu Estate and it is a relaxed and informal wander around the garden. It’s not a formal garden tour by a botanist or student of  the subject. Both Ru and I are enthusiastic and interested in what we are developing on the estate and I’m sure that this will come through on the tour.

I look at our garden tour as similar to our cooking demonstrations – relaxed and informal …. and a bit of fun.

Find out more about a stay in the Sri Lankan Hill Country

If you want to find out more about a stay at GlenMyu Estate please visit our website.

You will also find us on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook (Meta!).

You can readout reviews on Google, Booking.com, Airbnb and Tripadvisor.

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