Tuesday, 6 March 2012


After my 2004 visit to Sri Lanka and Bevis Bawa's Brief Garden, which was the subject of my last post, from time to time I came upon references to Lunuganga. My first thought was that Brief Garden had been renamed and reopened as a boutique hotel, but I soon discovered that Lunuganga was the country estate of Bevis's brother, Geoffrey. On my return last year, I was able to visit both gardens from my base at Waterside in Bentota.

Our fabulous accommodation at Waterside, Bentota

Crinums growing on Waterside's front lawn.

Geoffrey Bawa was Sri Lanka's and one of Asia's most influential architects. He created the large garden at Lunuganga from what had been an abandoned rubber plantation of about 25 acres. It is an incredibly romantic tropical garden where jungle, paddies and indigenous plants meet Italianate design. The property is situated on a promontory overlooking a lagoon on an estuary of the Bentota River. There are several houses on the property, but I especially love the main residence with its wonderful veranda and views overlooking the water.  Lunuganga is rendolent of the elegant and gracious lifestyle of a man committed to creativity and beauty.

Not far inside the entrance is the Garden Room, with the Glass House in the background

There is the same wonderful placement of urns and garden sculpture to provide definition to the different  garden rooms and vistas that I saw at Brief Garden.

Estate workers cleaning out the Water Garden

This leopard sculpture by Lydia Duchin marks the Water Gate, the departure point for excursions on to the lake and neighbouring islands.

The Hindu Pan

The urn on the right was designed by Bevis Bawa and Australian artist, Donald Friend

From Cinnamon Hill looking towards the main house.

The southern terrace

The southern view (with orchid in flower on the tree)

The Northern Terrace. The frangipanis, planted in 1947 when work first commenced on the garden, are as large as I have seen.

The front veranda of the main house

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