The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 9 Pinjor - An Indian country house and its garden

Purdah Garden at Pinjore

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The purdah garden at Pinjor and the terrace above it both illustrate the present indifference to the art of garden-design in India, and its decadence. For here, as I was informed, a 'trained gardener' from Saharanpur College had been in charge for a time-the maker, I promptly guessed, of the approach outside. Inside, his handiwork was plainly to be seen. There were winding paths; the usual unmeaning little flowerbeds dotted about; the same attempt at mown grass everywhere, instead of having a little laid down quite formally, and keeping that little perfect, like some square of precious emerald green carpet, such as the 'grass plots all covered with clover' in which the Emperor Babar took so great a delight. There was even a tumbledown greenhouse that had been built over one of the old chabutras. Happily the gardener had departed some time ago, and the grass and trees were rapidly returning to their former wild luxuriance. A very just remark was made to me by an Indian gentleman discussing this matter: 'You English can grow plants and flowers to perfection, and many that we never knew to exist before. But why cant you design a garden to grow them in ? Look at the gardens our kings and princes made before you came.' It was true enough of modern India, but I could not let the remark pass altogether unchallenged. So I replied that, at Hampton Court, the King-Emperor himself possessed at least one fine example; and that many other lovely gardens were scattered up and down our land. But the attempt was useless-I could see he disbelieved me; for had he not been a great traveller? Never had he seen in all India such a thing as a well-designed English garden, beautiful though their flowers might be, and so to his mind such a thing simply could not exist; which settled the matter to his satisfaction, if not to mine.