Did you know that July is the lotus season 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 bloom. This weekend, I went back for the park’s Lotus and Water Lily Festival. Ponds upon ponds of lotus flowers are a sight to behold.
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.
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.
I think I like the structured look of the seed pods against the giant leaves even more than the blooms:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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