September 24, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

Before the big baseball game in Washington on Saturday, Jacqueline and I spent a few hours exploring the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for the first time. It was a destination I had been planning to visit "one of these days" (famous last words), but never got around to it until a feature article in Friday's Washington Post Weekend section. That was enough to prompt us to finally do it. It is not easy to find, however, and the ongoing construction along the Anacostia freeway made it even harder to get there. But any doubts we had were quickly dashed as we saw the exquisite water lily flowers, pictured below.

The lily pond gardens were created in the late 19th Century as a private initiative, and began to draw regular visitors early in the 20th Century. After the Army Corps of Engineers was about to drain the wetlands in the 1930s, the Department of Interior was given control of the gardens, which are presently maintained by the National Park Service. We were pleased to see several volunteers doing cleanup work, and at low tide one can see some garbage in the mud in some places. Much remains to be done along the banks of the Anacostia River, which was an industrial sewer for several decades.

Kenilworth lily montage

This is just a sampling of the huge variety of water lilies that are cultivated at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. After I figure out which species each one is, I will post separate photos of them.

Jacqueline rescued two wild creatures during our brief visit: a small fish that had jumped out of the pond and was flopping around on a giant lily pad, and a baby Snapping turtle that was in the middle of a trail, in danger of being stomped upon. While walking on the boardwalk and hiking along the banks of the Anacostia River, we saw a variety of birds, to be listed in a separate post. It was a wonderful place to spend a few hours with Mother Nature -- within the boundaries of Our Nation's Capital!

Golden garden spider

This Golden garden spider was right outside the visitor center at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.