The 7.5 acres of Washington, DC that make up Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens are reborn every summer as lotus and water lily flowers bloom.
Growing three to six feet tall, the Nelumbo Nucifera or Sacred Lotus grow out of muddy, shallow ponds yet have brilliantly white and pink flowers.
Lotus open and close throughout their blooming cycle.Plan your visit for early in the day as the flowers close up around 2:00 pm or when the temperatures reach 90 degrees. Both days I visited in late July reached 90 degrees.
The rain during my visit revealed the effectiveness of the lotus’ waxy leaves. It was easy to see the water pooling on the giant leaves.
Everything about the lotus is beautiful…when it has petals. The petals eventually fall off to reveal a showerhead looking seedpod. While scientifically interesting, looking at them gives many people an uneasy feeling. This fear of objects with holes is called Trypophobia. Look it up! But don’t look it up if you don’t like the seedpod in the background of this photo.
Surrounding the lotus ponds are smaller ponds containing water lilies. The first water lilies were planted here over 100 years ago. Today’s lilies are a variety of colors and sizes.
Just as beautiful as the flowers are the part of the plant commonly called lily pads.
Most of the water lily ponds contain more than just plants. Tadpoles, frogs, and turtles are abundant.
Beyond the lotus and lily ponds lies a boardwalk out into the marshland along the neighboring Anacostia River. The tides in this area vary the water level significantly. It’s possible to kayak through the marsh a high tide. Deer and birds were easily spotted in the marsh during a visit at low tide.
The National Park Service hosts a weeklong Lotus & Water Lily Festival in mid-July each year. The festival brings more than 5,000 visitors to the park. The flowers are still in bloom outside of the Festival dates, so consider a visit on an adjacent date to miss the crowds. Check the Facebook page for Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens for current bloom updates.
Ready to visit? What do you hope to see? Lotus? Water Lily? Turtles? Let us know in the comments below and pin this image to tell everyone your headed to Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens to see the lotus and water lily.