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Monday, 16 February 2015

Sri Lanka Travel Pt 8: Brief Garden - Wow What A Garden!


Scouting around for things to do near my resort, I came across a place called Brief Garden. I was quite skeptical about visiting it initially as it is not a big botanical garden with pretty beds of flowers to boast of. Furthermore the cost of renting a tuk-tuk for the return 23 km journey at 2200Rs (RM66) and the entry at Rs1000 (RM30) pp was rather steep. Now having visited it, I think I would have missed something if I hadn't.
The last 2km of road into Brief Garden is bumpy and very narrow. Fortunately we met with only one oncoming vehicle. There was an immediate jam but our tuk-tuk driver gave way while the other used his skills to manoeuvre and squeeze his way through.
We kind of enjoyed the tuk-tuk ride nevertheless with the wind constantly blowing at our faces. After an hour we finally arrived at Brief Garden. There is a small parking area for vehicles. The gate and door to the garden were locked and the garden was totally hidden from view. This place used to be a rubber plantation and I was surprised at how secluded it was. Besides another tuk-tuk driver, there was no one else in sight. The bell was rung and out came the caretaker with the tickets. He ushered us in and told us to explore the garden ourselves. He told us he would be waiting at the house. 
Brief was the home and garden of Bevis Bawa (1909 - 1992) who was a planter, soldier, cartonist, columnist, sculptor, and a prominent landscape garderner of Sri Lanka. And why is this private garden so famous? Look through the slides and you would probably be able to tell why. 
"This garden looks more like a jungle than a garden!", was my first impression when the garden gate was opened.
We walked through a dense foliage of green shrubs and trees along a narrow winding path. What lay ahead was obscured by tall shrubs making this little journey one full of mystery.
Some parts were so secluded I wouldn't dare to explore if I were on my own.
Just when you think that it is a jungly walk all the way, the path suddenly opens up to a spacious area with a concrete curved bench. But soon enough you will be back on yet another path or stairs that leads you to even more surprises. 
a very narrow path
The land on which the garden is built is undulating, so there's climbing up and down to do.  At times we met with a junction and became undecided which path to follow. The series of photos below are not in sequence but highlight some of the interesting finds.
And a surprise find. A concrete ping-pong table.
This is something that looks like a barbecue pit.  Mr Bawa was a socialite, often having parties at his home.
There were so many corners to explore.
And what a stark contrast as we approached the house compound. The garden suddenly became tame. The spacious well manicured lawn at the highest part of the garden was a welcoming sight.

This lovely lawn overlooks a fabulous view of the valley beyond.
We started to explore the courtyard and the backyard of the house.
There is quite an impressive and eclectic display of artwork seen in doors, sculptures, and even architectural design of the property most of which were Bawa's own creation.
There is an obvious collection of homoerotic sculptures. Mr Bawa was actually gay.
Among all the flowers I saw in this garden, this is my favourite.
Left to the last to explore was the house that Bevis Bawa once lived in.
Living in a house like this in the 1920s when Sri Lanka was struggling as a 3rd world country must have been a luxury only the very wealthy could afford.
These wall tiles were the artwork of Donald Friend, a very famous Australian artist who stayed with Bawa for a few years.
It is a lovely home with many windows and doors.
After 2 hours we felt we've seen enough and bade farewell to Brief Garden. We have this to say when we left  "Wow! What a garden!"

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