Kenilworth Aquatic Garden
Along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC is a wonderful aquatic garden that is fascinating to take a walk. The first part has a series of managed ponds that are filled with lotus and various kinds of water lilies. A boardwalk extends out into a tidal bay on the river. It is a wonderful place to pass a few hours on a summer morning.
The lotus plant takes center stage during much of the summer. The flower stalk extends three or four feet about the water and the flower bud is the size of a grapefruit. The pink bud stands out against the sea of green formed by the leaves of surrounding lotus plants. The pink pedals open to form a flower the size of a large fruit bowls. Bees seem to love this flower and they come and go from the flowers. As a bee disappears inside the flower, I can image the pedals closing like a giant trap but of course they don’t.
A number of species of water lilies grow in the various ponds. I was particularly intrigued by the patterns formed by the flower, leaves, and water. The white flowers with yellow centers extend a few inches above the water and look like miniature tables sitting on a green circular platform formed by the leaves. The leaves lie flat with a thin coating of water around them. Spaces between the leaves create a dark mosaic to highlight the flowers and leaves. One pool has some giant leaf water lilies. The leaves are several feet across and have a lip several inches tall. I can imagine Mr. Toad from Wind and the Willows hosting a picnic for his friends on one of these great mats.
The flowers attract a menagerie of bees, butterflies, and other insects. It was fun to watch an individual flower for several minutes to see what all might come to it. The bees were successfully accumulating pollen on their hind legs to return to the hive. The butterflies were also finding plenty to eat. I saw swallowtails, fritillaries, and a number of smaller ones.
It is a great place to look for turtles and birds. Eastern painted turtles climbed on logs to sun themselves. Sometimes multiple ones crowded onto a single log and the bigger ones successfully pushed off the smaller if there was not sufficient room. I watched a green heron work the side of several ponds for about thirty minutes until it captured a sizable crawfish. It flew away with the crustacean still flaring its pinchers and legs. I assume the heron broke off the pinchers before eating its breakfast.
The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is definitely a place worth visiting and spending some leisurely time walking amongst the ponds and out the boardwalk. It a good use of a morning or afternoon.