NEW DELHI

Rashtrapati Bhavan all set to showcase its pride

NEW DELHI, FEB. 26. Come spring and the President's Estate is in full bloom. And as usual, Rashtrapati Bhavan is all ready to showcase its pride, the Mughal Gardens, that will be opened to the public for a month, starting this Friday.

Apart from the beautiful array of flowers and the carefully manicured lawns, the special attraction this time is the bio-diversity park which would be open to the public for the first time. With entry for the visitors from gate number 35, the route has been planned in such a manner that visitors will pass through the bio-diversity park that includes the much talked about Herbal Garden and Deer Park to reach the Mughal Gardens.

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the 15 acre gardens are said to be inspired by the beautiful gardens of Jammu and Kashmir, the garden surrounding the Taj Mahal and Persian and Indian miniature paintings. Reflecting the grandeur of Lutyens Delhi, the impressive gardens comprise of three parts: the Rectangular Garden, the Long Garden and the Sunken Garden.

Displaying a harmony of colours, varieties like Calendula, Antirrhinum, Alyssum, Dimorphotheca, Eschscholzia, Larkspur, Gazania, Gerbera, Godetia, Lineria, Viola and Pansy, among others have been planted all over the garden. A number of climbers, shrubs and trees like Moulsri, China Orange, Cypress and Thuja Orientalis give the garden its evergreen character.

Housing plants from all over the world, this year, the horticulture team has added "Muscari Armeniaum'' that has been flown in especially from Holland and have attempted to grow it in India for the first time. But the pride of the garden is undoubtedly the 18 inches wide Dahlia flowers that have been planted all around the circular sunken garden. The 400 varieties of Roses that have been planted in the flowerbeds in the Long Garden are also in the list of attractions.

"The President likes flowers that have a fragrance. And so I have planted a variety of roses in these flowerbeds and also put creepers with fragrance,'' explained superintend President Garden, Zila Ram walking through the Long Garden. "He takes a walk through the Mughal Gardens every morning and takes a lot of interest in the plants,'' he said.

The natural charm of the garden has been enhanced by the innovative driftwood display and hanging baskets of foliage put together by the horticulture team.

"We wanted to add something new but we have to keep in mind the original character of the Mughal Garden. So we thought of polishing naturally carved pieces of driftwood and using them for display. The hanging baskets similarly also fit into the original character of the Long Garden,'' said Dr. Zila Ram.

With entry from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Gardens will be open daily except on Monday. Entry for disabled persons using wheelchairs will be through Rashtrapati Bhavan reception.