The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 2 Gardens of the Plains - Agra

Gardens of the Plains - Agra

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Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say; Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday ? And this first Summer month that brings the Rose Shall take Yamshyd and Kaikobad away.


FAR away to the northward of the sunbaked plains of Agra, beyond the great snow barrier of the Himalayas, lies the small kingdom of Ferghana-' on the borders of the habitable world,' as Babar, Prince of Gardeners, shortly describes his native valleys on the opening page of his inimitable Memoirs. With the advent of the Emperor Zehireddin Mohammed, called Babar (the Tiger), the history of garden-design in India may be said to begin; and throughout his Memoirs, the record of thirty-five years spent in almost incessant warfare, there are repeated references to flowers and gardens. In the midst of long accounts of wars and skirmishes we find the Emperor hurrying back to Kabul to see how his Garden of Felicity had prospered [See Afganistan gardens]. Wherever he went, he paused to note the flowers, birds, and animals that were new to him. Marching through the mountains of Ghur-bend in Afghanistan Babar observes that: 'The ground is richly diversified by various kinds of tulips. I once directed them to be counted, and they brought in thirty-two or thirty-three different sorts of tulips. There is one species which has a scent in some degree like a rose, and which I termed laleh-gul-bui, (the rose-scented tulip). This species is found only in the Sheikh's Plain, in a small spot of ground, and nowhere else. In the skirts of the same hills, below Perwan, is produced the Hundred - leaved tulip, which is likewise found only in one narrow spot of ground, as we emerge from the straits of Ghurbend.' This last flower, which Babar mistook for a tulip, is really the double red poppy. [Note: the future Emperor Zahir-ud-din Mohammad Babur was born in Andijan in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan]