Lush tropical plants abandon their usual disarray and conform to order. Sprawling trees hold high their vast canopies and provide shade for springing undergrowth. Ancient Frangipani trees throw down a carpet of fragrant blossoms. To recreate little gardens of Eden is no mean task. But it was precisely this challenge that the two famous Bawa brothers have taken on in their masterpieces at Lunugala and Brief. The late Geoffrey Bawa – the ‘father of Asian architecture’ lovingly created the serene world of Lunuganga. Flanked on two sides by the Deduwa Lake, this 15 acre estate just inland from Bentota, was transformed into a unique blend of Italian Renaissance classicism and heady tropical wilderness. Here pavilions, courtyards, little passageways, statues and ponds vie for attention, and yet are in perfect harmony with their surrounds and each other to evoke a lasting sense of tranquillity.

On a much smaller scale, but no less beautiful is the haven of ‘Brief’ – the result of a 15 year old devotion to paint a living landscape in a beloved garden by the artist Bevis Bawa – brother of Geoffrey. Intricately laid out on five acres of land with lush vegetation, a wide variety of tropical trees, plants and sculptures dot the garden and invite one to linger and explore. The brothers have left their legacies – not just in their art and architecture, but in a living, growing form – as both Lunuganga and Brief continue to be maintained precisely as they were wished to; so those who visit them can come away having caught a lasting glimpse of Eden.

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