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Wanted: The Perfect Rose for the President

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NEW VISTAS AHEAD: Visitors to the Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan can look forward to a new treat soon.
NEW VISTAS AHEAD: Visitors to the Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan can look forward to a new treat soon.

Mandira Nayar

New vistas opening up at Rashtrapati Bhavan

NEW DELHI: Rashtrapati Bhavan here is on a mission to find the perfect rose. And all the President's men are looking for a rose that has both -- beauty as well as fragrance.

"President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam likes roses. He is especially interested in roses that have fragrance. The problem is that the varieties of roses that are sweet smelling are not good-looking. We have tried to convert a portion of the Mughal Gardens of Rastrapati Bhavan into a fragrant rosary. If he approves, we will make it permanent,'' says a senior Rashtrapati Bhavan official.

With the best variety of roses coming in from all over the country for the rosary, a sweet smell will hopefully linger on in the garden by the end of March. And with a little help from scientists, the perfect rose may actually become a reality.

"We've got roses from reputable private nurseries and government institutes. There are varieties from Bangalore, Kolkata and the Pusa Institute here in Delhi. With a little help from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, a rose that has both the qualities could be bred,'' say officials.

For the moment, visitors to the Mughal Gardens might not get to see a rose with both fragrance and looks, but they will certainly get to see the best flowers in business when they visit the place next. From lilies to sweet peas and even more "desi'' flowers like marigolds, the Mughal Gardens will as usual have something for everyone.

Trying another experiment, tulips -- always the highlight of a trip to the famed gardens -- will be from closer home instead of Holland. "For the first time we have got tulips from Srinagar. They are from the Government Horticulture Department. If they are successful, we will get them again next year instead of flying them in from Holland,'' say officials.

The tulips might be the only green plants at the moment, but when Russian President Vladimir Putin - the guest of honour at this year's Republic Day Parade on Rajpath in the Capital -- steps outside in the warm sun to survey the sprawling Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan, he will get to experience at least some of its magic. Blooming a little earlier this year, the Mughal Gardens will be in its full glory this Republic Day.

"The winter set in late and so the plants got to grow a little more this time,'' said an official.

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