Brief Garden

sights / Parks & gardens

Lonely Planet review

Ten kilometres inland from Bentota is the Brief Garden. A barely controlled riot of a Jungle Book garden, the grounds are a lovely place to get lost, while the house, which used to be the home of Bevis Bawa, brother of renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, has an eclectic range of artwork on display – from homoerotic sculpture to a wonderful mural of Sri Lankan life in the style of Marc Chagall. The mural was created by Australian artist Donald Friend, who originally came for six days but stayed six years – definitely not the sort of house guest you want! Other, more short-term, guests included Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, who stayed here during the filming of Elephant Walk in 1953. It’s a good idea to plaster on some insect repellent as the gardens are a favourite of biting insects. To get here follow the road south from Aluthgama to Matagama Rd and turn inland to the Muslim village of Dharga Town. From here you will periodically see yellow signs saying ‘Brief’, but as everyone knows this place, it’s easy enough to ask directions. There’s no public transport.