Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens: The Lotus Season

Did you know that July is the month of lotus blooms in DC? Last week, I wrote about my late-June stroll through the serene and beautiful Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, “where water and wind dance,” and the lotus ponds were just beginning their season. This weekend, I went back for the park’s Lotus and Water Lily Festival. Ponds upon ponds of lotuses in bloom are a sight to behold.

Lotus bud at the Kenilworth Aquatic Garden, Washington, DC

After last night’s rain

The lotus season, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC

A perfect lotus bloom against the morning light

It turns out that lotuses are superb nectar flowers: It was fun to watch an endless procession of bumblebees slide down the large pink petals of half-opened blossoms, still wet from last night’s rain, diving in with gusto.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC

A lotus flower and a bee, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

Bumblebees, taking turns

With August almost here, many blooms were already past their prime, about to begin another dramatic stage of being. The shape of the lotus seed pod is fascinating.

A lotus blossom, almost bloomed out, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

A lotus blossom: almost done

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

Lotus seed pod closeup, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

Lotus seeds

I think I like the structured look of the seed pods against the giant leaves even more than the blooms:

Lotus pond after bloom, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

The texture of a pond

Underneath the leaves, life was bubbling away, with dragon flies, and water beetles, and frogs–an army of frogs, unseen mostly, but certainly heard! Once in a while, I was able to spot one, carefully camouflaged against the greenish water.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

Spotted, finally!

Insects of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

There weren’t as many dragonflies as we saw in June, but their dexterity and bright colors were just as mesmerizing

With lotus blooms clearly at center stage, the supporting cast of dramatic rose mallows, fragrant buttonbush blossoms, and delicate water lilies still managed to impress.

Cephalanthus occidentalis, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

A  buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) in bloom, a native marsh dweller, striking up close

Flowers in July, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

Rose Mallow, simply gorgeous

Upclose bee in a rose mallow flower, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

A bee, pollen-diving in a Crimson-Eyed Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

As usual, I walked past the ponds and to the raised promenade into the marsh. Between 7 and 8 AM (the grounds open at 7), the marsh is full of life. Stationed on a wooden bench with my binoculars, I watched three white egrets and a great blue heron, clearly visible but always at a careful distance, hunt for their breakfasts. Closer to shore, barn swallows darted by the water in search of bugs, and red-winged blackbirds inspected ripening cattails. In late August, the cattails and the birds will become the main attraction.

Birds of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

A great egret (Ardea alba), poised for the kill

Barn swallow, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

A barn swallow–caught in flight, against the still water

Done for now, I headed back to pay my last respects (this year, at least) to the lotus ponds. Space was being cleared amid the white waterlilies: In a couple of weeks, the giant Victoria lilies–their pads get as big as 3 meters/over 9 feet across!–will float there for a month-long appearance. I can’t wait! Two unhurried hours at Kenilworth behind me, I headed home, elated and well-rested, mentally, as if after a secret, impromptu vacation.

Water lily, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC

Water lilies preparing to share their ponds with Victoria lilies

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2 thoughts on “Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens: The Lotus Season

  1. Pingback: Waterlilies in Washington: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens « Transplanted Tatar

  2. Pingback: Street Color: The Washington DC Turkish Festival « Transplanted Tatar

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