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“Overt suggestiveness?” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Brief Garden - Bevis Bawa

Brief Garden - Bevis Bawa
Kalawila Village, Beruwala, Bentota 12070, Sri Lanka
034 227 4462
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Ranked #6 of 13 Attractions in Bentota
Type: Gardens, Outdoors
Attraction details
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Overt suggestiveness?”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

We visited Brief Garden while staying at Lunuganga. If you can swing it, I would say it is worth seeing both (Lunuganga should be reserved well in advance, phone ahead for Brief). Either one is a welcome reprieve if you've been spending too much time on Bentota's beaches. (I know, not possible for some.)

If you do manage to see both gardens, the comparisons will be inevitable. As you may hear, both Bawa brothers were talented but with differences in their approach. It should be noted that (the older) Bevis' Brief Garden was first and was the precursor to inspire Geoffrey's Lunuganga, if not eventually spurring Geoffrey's entire architectural career. And the two properties are very different to begin with. Brief is inbound within the jungle, while Lunuganga is larger with a lake bordering its opposite ends.

The experience of Brief is intimate in size, the garden is organized by designated paths with lushly dense tropical foliage. Following these paths, you happen upon sudden openings and clearances that are humanly scaled - almost like garden "rooms". Some of these open spaces might have a water feature, formal stairs, or spaces sized for activities. The feeling of the garden as "rooms" is more clearly evident in the garden spaces behind the house (such as the outdoor shower area) that the tour guide will take you through.

Lunuganga is more pastoral in comparison. Indeed, Geoffrey kept cows on it (still there) that maintained its legal status as agricultural land. There is a spatial flow to the rolling hills and stepped plateaus that contrast to the jungle walkways of Brief. Lunuganga is often cited as one of the factors that ultimately led Geoffrey to get formal architectural training. This may add to the sense that Lunuganga is the work of someone more concerned with space. As far as I can tell, Bevis designed his garden primarily as an enthusiast.

I am surprised that few if any comments on TA thus far make mention of what appeared to be Bevis' undeniably overt orientation. In one sense, it should not matter. Yet, I think it provides a fascinating angle from which one can reflect on the brothers and their relationships to their gardens and the world. There are records which suggest Geoffrey may have also veered this way, although they are only inferences, as he did not openly project this image as his brother did.

Entering Brief Garden, you feel like you are allowed into Bevis' private world. Homo-eroticism abounds - some blatantly obvious, some quite suggestive, some with a touch of cheeky humour. It reads as a place where he was free to let loose and enjoy life on his own terms without abandon. Viewed in this light, outdoor spaces which are "intimately scaled" take on a further dimension. (Something happening behind those moving bushes?)

Likewise, Lunuganga is an interesting documentation of Geoffrey's world. You could almost chart his career as an architect in parallel to its evolution. While Brief seemed somewhat of an inner sanctum, Lunuganga had an expansiveness to it where one did not necessarily "hide" so-to-speak. (There are plenty of physical hiding "spots" but I'm referring more to the mentality.) For example, the male sculptures on display at Lunuganga are significantly more demure in posture - classical rather than wildly expressive. Was this the influence of English propriety alongside English landscape design? Was he acting in accordance with the etiquette expected of someone of his growing renown? Or was Bevis so forwardly extravagant it makes us pale in our moralities?

Visited February 2013
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164 reviews from our community

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English first
Senior Contributor
40 reviews 40 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Relaxing Gardens”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

We decided on a late afternoon trip to Brief Gardens, a sort of gentrified English Garden with the tropical touch. To see the exquisite birds you will either need to visit first thing in the morning or late afternoon. There are a myriad of colourful birds - I have no idea what they are and the garden also offers sitings of Squirrel, Chipmunks and we were also lucky enough to see a mongoose whilst having a cup of tea after our tour sitting on the veranda. The drive up from Bentota through the small villages and up through the rice fields and jungle is in itself a small tour of how life in Sri Lanka goes by day by day. If at a loose end it is worth the trip and Rp1000 entrance fee.

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Peace and tranquility”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 13, 2013

Beautifully designed, but not overkemped - I liked the fact the fountains don't work anymore and it all has a weathered feel - working in harmony with nature, not against it.

Visited March 2013
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4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“"Really architect Bungalow"”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2013

I was interested only bungalow because there are real architect design and guide explain everything very well. Garden was not interested to me because when i visit that place i already visited peradeniya botanical garden and Hakgala garden.

entrance fees for per person : 1000 LKR

Distance to from bentota : About 8km

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lancaster, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Fascinating house & enchanting jungle garden”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2013

Created by Bevis Bawa, brother of celebrated architect Geoffrey. It’s an eccentric combination of Italianate landscaped areas and meandering paths through lush semi-jungle. Atmospheric rather than spectacular, and on a relatively intimate scale. The garden is enchanting and in combination with the house it gives an insight into the life and times of an unusual individual. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring it. However, whilst you can appreciate it for what it is, I felt a few notes on the garden’s history and how Bevis set about creating it would have been helpful. The current owner was padding about and amiably chatting to visitors but after he had generously spent quite a bit of time talking with me about the photos of Bevis and his family I didn’t want to monopolise him by quizzing him about the garden. The garden doesn’t advertise itself, which is probably just as well. Crowds of visitors would overwhelm it and destroy the atmosphere. There are no directions and it is not easy to find unaided but all the locals know it and can point you in the right direction.

Visited February 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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