Gardening is a common hobby and rooftop gardens are gaining popularity in Bangladesh. But a garden with aquatic plants is not a common scene.
Such a special garden with 70 species of aquatic plants has been traced in Narayanganj's Fatulla. Raqibul Hasan, 33, has created his garden in the yard and rooftop of his Panchabati residence, collecting floating plants from home and abroad.
Asked how it all started, Raqibul said, "It was 2015 and we, my wife and I, were visiting Cox's Bazar. As my wife loves blue water lilies, I collected one from there. Soon collecting aquatic plants and growing them in containers became a passion for me."
Water bodies are shrinking every day in the concrete jungle of urban life. And so are the aquatic plants. Raqibul built the garden to archive the rare aquatic plants which are facing the danger of extinction.
Speaking about his collection, Raqibul said he has a total of 44 species of water lilies including Victoria Amazon Lily and Hardy Water Lily.
"Usually, you'll find three kinds of water lilies in Bangladesh. But in my collection, I have seven local species including Pink Water Lily which is very rare," he added.
Besides the local ones, Raqibul collected the remaining 37 species of water lilies from Thailand, Mexico, Europe, USA and other countries.
Raqibul has a collection of six lotus species, too. Local but rare Swarnakumud and Jhanji are also there in his garden.
He started the garden from a kind of passion. But, it is now a source of income for him. He has been selling saplings of aquatic plants for the past few years.
Taslim Abed, an official of a pharmaceutical factory in Gazipur, collects aquatic plants from Raqibul.
"By gardening and keeping aquatic plants on the rooftop of our factory, we can bring down the temperature from 52 degree Celsius to 38," Taslim said.
Deputy director of Narayanganj agriculture extension department, Kazi Habibur Rahman, also praised Raqibul saying, "It's a great endeavour. If others follow him, we can leave a better world for our next generation."
After collecting 70 species of floating plants, Raqibul does not want to stop. He has plans to keep 100 species of water lilies and 50 species of lotus by this year.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain.