My Brief visit to Brief Garden

Kalawila Travel Blog

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Gate to the Loo with a view

After working in Sri Lanka for 2 years, I just found out that there is a place for me to visit very near to my working area. I set aside one Sunday to go there and have my visit.

 

The road to Brief Garden is inland from the coast, around 8 kilometers. It is a bit confusing pass through marshland and paddy field. After we stop and ask for direction several times. We arrived, which were sure by a sign say “Brief”!

 

Driving though a small road with dense palm trees on both side, we came in to a small circular open area with two doors, one toward the garden and another one toward the house.

Red Ginger
As there is no sign (At least not in English), I did not know what to do and retreat to find some one to asked. ‘Yes, you were in correct place! You just have to ring the small bell!’ I return and now notice there were two bells! Well, one is over the garden door and another over the house door! So, I rang them both.

 

Less than a minute later, a man open the house door and greet us. He told us that the garden and house pass would cost 350 Rupees (around USD 3.5). I paid, and then he let me pass through the garden and promise me that he would join me later in the garden.

 

The walk in the garden is very enjoyable for me. I feel a bit of surprise in every corner. Each section of the garden is in circular and in each section is dominant plant in that section. It is like small surprise in each section. It is a bit shame for me, as I visit Brief Garden at the end of dry season so, grass was not so green. However, I very much still enjoy the walk.

 

As promised, the gentleman come back and joins me at the garden.

Third page letter sign by King Mongkut of Siam
He explained the history behind the garden and house. Later, he also showed me the court yard garden and also showed me, Chinese Moon door and Orchid nursery.

 

I also have a brief talk with the current owner of the garden, Mr. Dooland, who inherit and take care of this estate. He also show me one of most interesting treasure (at least to me) a letter from King of Siam (King Mongkut) to the British Governor of the time. King Mongkut (King Rama IV of Siam) also known to the westerner as the King in the ‘King and I’ play. As a Thai, I am very much fond of this discovery.

 

He also told me more about this garden’s history in which I did more reading and summary here:

 

Brief Garden was house and garden of Bevis Bawa. He was famous, artist, garden designer and landscape design consultancy.

House gate!
He is alder brother of more famous architecture, Geoffrey Bawa. In the beginning, he owned a plantation near Aluthgama, as his family estate around 200 acre. He was also an officer in the Ceylon Light Infantry. He was aid de camp to British Governor.


However, after he resign his commission in 1942. He return to his Brief Plantation and started envision building the garden. During that time his plantation was losing money; as he was spend most of his energy in the service of being an officer. While, he come back to the plantation he calculated that he was producing rubber at 9 cents per pound, while selling it for 6, and he convincing himself that he would save money if he replace the rubber plantation with a garden.

 

In his unpublished memoirs in 1989, he wrote: ‘I told my mother that if we cut down two hundred trees we would lose less. Her mathematical capability was as shocking as my own and she said ‘You seem to have a point there, but let’s not go into deeply. However, I agree that a view from your house is absolutely essential!’ 

 

It was around 1950, that the garden has shape up to what it is today.

House courtyard
And it is around this time that his landscape consultancy had unabated grow. As the garden flourished, Bevis played host to groups of Sri Lankan artists. This really show as many of the pieces in this house is given by several artists and some even painted on the wall and door.

 

Toward the end of his life, he was ill and became blind. However, as he know and love this garden so much. He knows every branch of the tree by heart. He once told his garden manager in some instance that he remembers that there a branch of tree would have grown over the pool already, and it needs to be trim. Of course, he was correct there the branch has grown over the pool and the manager needs to send people and trim the tree.

Belvis's Brief Garden may have been lesser known than the one of his brother Geoffrey Bawa. However, I am grateful of my own trip to have this garden and enjoy the walk and seeing it.
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Gate to the Loo with a view
Gate to the Loo with a view
Flower and steps
Flower and steps
Red Ginger
Red Ginger
Third page letter sign by King Mon…
Third page letter sign by King Mo…
House gate!
House gate!
House courtyard
House courtyard
Mr. Wettimmuni Dooland Amarasiri d…
Mr. Wettimmuni Dooland Amarasiri …
Me!
Me!
The sign
The sign
Garden gate
Garden gate
Coke Tree
Coke Tree
View from house
View from house
me?
me?
All the motor vehicle, Bawa have u…
All the motor vehicle, Bawa have …
Bawa Family emblem
Bawa Family emblem
Second Page
Second Page
First page letter from King of Sia…
First page letter from King of Si…
House
House
Chair circular table
Chair circular table
Picture of Bevis and Queen Mothers…
Picture of Bevis and Queen Mother…
Bali Batic
Bali Batic
Front gate
Front gate
Too bad it is dry season
Too bad it is dry season
Brief Garden Map
Brief Garden Map
Open air shower
Open air shower
Kalawila
photo by: stabber911