Gardens have to be one of the most intriguing creations. Going for a leisurely stroll, and exploring the carefully designed space can be great fun and super relaxing to the eyes, the mind and the soul.
But there is a colossal amount of work that goes into bringing a garden to life and making sure it flourishes in different weather conditions.
They can be a small haven where many can escape into the tranquillity, away from their busy lives and the perfect space for a lovely picnic with loved ones.
If done right, gardens can be a masterpiece and one such masterpiece is the Brief garden in Sri Lanka.
It’s one of those destinations that a traveller must visit when holidaying in Sri Lanka, especially if they have a deep appreciation for art, architecture and beauty.
The Brief Gardens – Introduction
The gardens are open for anyone who wishes to come and immerse in its unique verdant beauty and peaceful ambience. You can visit the garden on any day of the week between 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. It’s also not closed during any public holiday, and there’s free parking (Yay!).
The entrance fee for an adult foreigner is approximately 10 USD and half the rate for kids between the age of 6-12 years. For locals, a garden tour would cost 500 LKR while a tour inside the house would cost 2000 LKR.
These tickets can be purchased from the front lobby area connected to the main house – which homes a favourably tasteful art collection alongside other stylish interiors.
The Brief Garden takes a space of 5 acres, and it comes with numerous footpaths, stairs, green spaces, ponds and alluring sculpture designs.
You will need some time to walk around and absorb all the thought-filling work that has gone into making the Brief Garden what it is, and despite what the name suggests, your visit here will be anything but brief.
After meticulous planning and skilled and patient endeavour, the Brief Garden was brought to life and finally opened to the public in 1969. Many refer to this iconic garden space as Major Bevis William Frederick Bawa’s labour of love.
If you have a soft spot for architecture and art, you’ll be immensely impressed to know that Bewis Bawa was in fact, the older sibling of renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa.
Geoffrey Bawa was 10 years junior to Bewis Bawa, and he went on to create a name for himself as one of the most influential Asian architects of the 20th century.
Reaching the Brief Gardens
The Brief Garden is situated approximately 10 kilometres inland from the famous coastal town of Bentota – which belongs to the southern coastal region of the island. So you’ll be journeying to a more tropical forest, filled with a slightly higher elevation of the land.
If you are travelling directly from Colombo, it can take up to 2 hours or less (depending on the traffic levels).
You will pass narrow rural roads filled with lovely houses and trees and stunning views of far-stretching paddy fields and small hills in the distance.
You know you have reached the destination when you pass an antique-looking board containing the words ‘Brief’. Drive till you reach a black gate that’s guarded by two figurines that have fashioned a pot plant as a hat.
Suppose it’s more in vogue with what we are about to explore, a small taste of what awaits within.
Exploring the House
If you visited with the expectation of only exploring a garden, then you would be excited to know that you can do a small tour of Bewis Bawa’s house. You have to enter the Brief Garden through the main house, so it’s not going to be an added journey.
At a quick glance, you know right away that the house design was given considerable thought, much like the iconic garden beyond the doors.
Walk around and enjoy the incredible art pieces it homes, along with the architecture. From the wooden windows and doors to the magnificent scenery.
You will find a healthy range of tasteful art pieces and large murals hung on the walls, demanding longer periods of attention from the viewers – this also includes old photographs of Bawa in his more youthful years.
His love for his automobile collections also remained on the walls entertaining visitors of all ages. They add grandness to the beauty.
It’s hard to miss the quirky yet stylish ornamental pieces gracefully occupying their respective places – adding a lavish appeal to the whole space.
We are not going to lie, walking in Bawas footsteps – we began to comprehend the true elegance and elevated sense of style Bawa carried with him.
Exploring the Gardens
The garden, of course, is a whole different story. Lush greenery harmoniously combines with the designed space, making it a haven of natural beauty and secrecy.
Grassy spaces on the elevated ground are connected to lower levels through aged staircases that have mossy green patches on them with ample plants keeping them company from either side.
From circular ponds to more intricately shaped ponds, the water terraces create almost a dramatic effect on the garden. Walk through circular doorways and arches, the space created almost has a maze-like effect.
The urns and the ironwork deserve to be given some attention as well. But the sculptures do stand out in an exceptional sense. Some of them exude a more eccentric feel others a more seductive allure.
One particular facial carving even had two blue-tinted globes for eyes, which was a thrilling discovery for us. It’s clear that Bawa has made careful use of each space to ensure that the sculptures highlight the space creating the extra magic that draws you to it.
It didn’t escape our observation that no two corners looked the same, so if you skip exploring a small section, you are missing out on witnessing Bawa’s creative brilliance.
Bawa’s expert plantsman skills also shine through from every corner of this garden, and yes there are plenty of corners! Each corner offers a generous amount of private space for visitors to just lose themselves amongst this lush tranquil haven and enjoy the serenity.
If you want to make the whole experience more memorable or even romantic, you’ll be happy to know that you can arrange lunch, dinner or even a high-tea session with your special someone or your travel partner.
Keep in mind that in order to have the arrangements ready, you will have to call early and make the reservations.