Saturday, 25 February 2012

Brief Garden

These statue-topped gateposts mark the entrance to one of the loveliest private gardens in Sri Lanka, Bevis Bawa's Brief Garden, situated about 10 kilometres inland from Bentota on Sri Lanka's west coast. 

Here is the journalist, travel writer and nephew of W. Somerset Maugham, Robin Maugham's description:

'Brief Garden is a Paradise; it is a Shangri-la, a glimpse of Nirvana--call it what you will after you have been to see it. The harmony of the Brief Garden is unexpected because, as Bevis Bawa explains it, it consists of a collection of several small gardens--thought out by him in various moods and at various times during its growth over the last forty years. The result is a climax of loveliness, a proclamation that nature can triumph over the hideous inventions of mankind.

'In the leafy trees and shrubs the wild birds call and sing. Flowers glitter in the sunshine. Gracefully-shaped vistas reach out to the horizon. Tranquility pervades the green terraces. Peace covers the house with a soft cloak. Peace fall over the lawns like a blessing. Peace is everywhere. For this place is a Paradise, made by the sensibility of one man, created by his patience and his love.'

The man behind Brief Garden, Bevis Bawa, began landscaping the 5 acre garden his father had purchased following a successful legal brief, in 1929 and continued until his death in 1992. From all accounts, he was an amazing character - artist, wit, raconteur and garden designer. For sixty years his home attracted the rich and famous, including Lawrence Olivier,Vivian Leigh, and King Edward VIII, and was a haven for artists from around the world, such as Australia's Donald Friend, who came for six days and ended up staying six years. And who could blame him!

As I mentioned in an earlier post on Helga's Folly in Candy, I first visited Sri Lanka in 2004, the year of the terrible tsunami, and I finally had the opportunity to return last year. My first visit was prior to my conversion to digital photography, but this trip in 2011 marked the end of the road for my digital camera, which had served me faithfully in the intervening five or six years. So, with apologies for the photo quality (it was clearly on its last legs), here are some of the images I brought back from my return visit to Sri Lanka and Brief Garden.

These beautiful newlyweds kindly consented to being photographed.

Torch ginger

The Moon Gate - a traditional architectural element in Chinese gardens

'In the land where the jaggery grow...Bawa of Brief'

There are so many fabulous ideas to be gleaned from a visit to Brief Garden: the curved steps and garden seats, the plantings, the sweeping terraces, the garden rooms, the perfect placement of garden statues and urns, and the vistas from every room of the beautiful residence.

Perhaps one of the factors that spurred Bevis on when creating his Shangri La was the spirit of sibling rivalry, because not far from Brief Garden and Bentota lies another stunning garden called Lunuganga, the home and garden of his brother, esteemed architect, Geoffrey Bawa. I look forward to sharing my images of that with you soon.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A stroll through Paddo

Paddington or 'Paddo', as it is affectionately known, is one of Brisbane's oldest suburbs. Most of the houses are traditional 'Queenslanders'. The most important feature of this style is a deep veranda, which may or may not be screened. In addition, they are frequently built on stumps off the ground to allow air to circulate underneath, important in our sub-tropical climate. This also enables houses to be built on very steep hillside streets found in many Brisbane suburbs like Paddington.

The main shopping street is Latrobe Terrace, where many of the original homes have been converted into trendy boutiques, restaurants and gift shops. It's a fun place to spend an afternoon, and I took advantage, after a recent lunch time appointment in the neighbourhood, to wander along the top end of Latrobe Terrace.

'Thousand Island Dressing' great for light fittings and costume jewellery.

Looking down Latrobe Terrace

I gave the credit card a bit of a work out here at 'Mood'. (lovely white Crepe myrtle on the right)

There are also some great ideas for the garden to be gleaned from the beautiful shops and houses along the way.

Here's a pretty combination of a tiny grevillea and flapjack plant Kalanchoe luciae

Pots of jade plant Crassula ovata at the entrance

The white flowers to the left of this beautiful home's garden are Cats' Whiskers Orthosiphon stamineus. They are a great landscaping plant for the subtropics with similar growth to salvias, and, like salvias, they are great for attracting bees to the garden. 

Love this water feature with cockatoos.

A pretty entry to one of the renovated workers's cottages.

Fabulous mosaic lounge complete with rug.

Detail from the 'rug'.

Verandas - screened for privacy...

or open to watch the passing parade.

Love the cool colour combination of Plumbago auriculata and it looks like snail creeper Vigna caracalla 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day February 2012

After the dryness of the closing months of 2011, we have had plenty of rain since the New Year. Here is a snapshot of what is happening in my garden for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. This meme, hosted by May Dreams Gardens, provides the opportunity to visit the gardens of other bloggers around the world to see what's happening in their gardens each month.

This month I was pleased to see my white Ixora 'Kampon's Pride' in flower, and with the new growth finally assuming a more upright posture after doing a good prostrate imitation for a while there. It seems to be working quite well with the cordyline backdrop and the variegated alstomeria and a variegated pineapple for company.

There are still a few patches in this garden after I was a bit ruthless with the salvia and the cosmos. I need to handle 'succession planning' a little better, but it won't be long now. The self-seeded cosmos are almost ready to flower and the more exotic varieties that I planted are hot on their heels.

This is another ixora, 'Pink Malay'. I have a row of them behind the spider lilies on the driveway that are quite advanced, but this was a late addition to extend the border. The flower is almost as big as the plant.

New buds and white berries from the last flush of the Night-scented Jasmine Cestrum nocturnum

Plumeria obtusa

Plumeria pudica

Another new appearance in the garden this month has been this dahlia 'Marie Antoinette'. It's been flowering like mad. I am looking forward to Spring when I can order a few more dahlia tubers.

The leopard lilies are still flowering well.

Firespike Odontonema (I had seen this around for years, but never had a clue what it was called till I became a garden blogger!)

I remember buying this at a tropical garden show, but I can't remember what it was, maybe a canna. It has never flowered and dies down every winter.

More coloured foliage courtesy of a croton.

Spiral ginger Costus and brugmansia have dominated the backyard all summer.

One of my new orchids, a miltonia.

An oncidium orchid.

Hints of what's to come in the autumn garden, zinnia seedlings.


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