Not the best photo, but what I got
From the street Colombo is all traffic, signboards, and cars. From the sidewalk (as much as there is one) it’s much the same. You hit an occasional stretch like Baudhalloka Mawatha or near the Uni where the trees canopy up into a verdant tunnel. But then it’s back to the ground. However, from above, Colombo is one of the greenest cities I’ve ever seen. My family recently moved into an apartment with a view, and the city looks beautiful. I’ve seen Montreal and Toronto from above, but the greenery is entirely different here. There I saw patches of park-land, some huge, but then roofs and artifice. In Colombo the foliage and city are entirely mixed, and there is green, literally, everywhere.
Part of it is sheer inevitability. No matter what you do, the jungle will encroach. You can’t grow grass here, but almost everything will land, blossom and crawl over any unoccupied patch of property. You can either go with it and maintain a teeming garden, or be left with a teeming mess. Even with a mature government, and property laws that encouraged development, the trees would still win.
Another thing I love is how many houses and commercial spaces will build around trees. For example, the British School has a large courtyard with an old tree still thriving in between the wide concrete walls. Barefoot has a thick fellow popping out of the tiles, and the snaking pool at Mahaweli Reach Kandy is apparently built around the trees there.
Many Sri Lankan houses have a space open to the sky, and often to the rain. Sometimes it’s a pool full of fish, or just a garden, but there is always that acknowledgement of the environment in the house. We filled ours (in Battaramulla) with rocks ’cause the cat peed in it.
From a height you can see all those individual preservations tufting up and above the roofs. Colombo actually looks greener than Battaramulla, at least from one vantage.