From the start, said Bawa, he thought of Lunuganga as “an extension of the surroundings – a garden within a larger garden.” What he’d bought was a Thirties bungalow in the middle of a rubber plantation. He had no overall plan of what he wanted to do, but two early interventions established the scale on which the garden had to develop. First, he cut through the dense plantations to open up a view north over the lake to an island in its centre. Then, in a much more complicated and ambitious move, he cleared a long wide vista which falls away from the house to the south, then rises on the other side of a dip to the highest point of the garden – Cinnamon Hill. There’s an echo of the English landscape garden in this broad green ride (Bawa was a student at Cambridge and later qualified as an architect in London) but on either side of course it’s hemmed in by the dense evergreenery of indigenous trees, not oak or ash or beech.
Looking out from the house, or back to the house from the top of Cinnamon Hill, that drop and rise of grass seems seamless. But actually, running across the middle, at the lowest point, there’s a road leading to another property. It’s brilliantly concealed. Only when you are moving through the covered passage by the Draftmen’s House (built by Bawa for his assistants) does a small window show you that you are actually on a bridge crossing the road. There’s no way you can approach the road directly. A dense low planting of shrubs and ferns makes an impenetrable barrier.
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