Finding the Roots of the Lotus in the Urban Jungle in Washington, DC
DC was built on wetlands. And where better to face this fact than in NE’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, where deep mud, humid air, and several dozen ponds of still water come together to make a perfect home for thousands of waterlilies, round lotus leaves, and enormous dragonflies. What started off as one man’s hobby has grown into acres of aquatic gardens teeming with tropical blossoms, bumblebees, and baby amphibians. Summer is the best season to tour the gardens, when all the aquatic plants are in bloom, though spring is best for wildflowers in the adjacent Kenilworth Marsh, and winter is a great time for birders. In addition to being an insect heaven, the gardens attract waterbirds like great blue herons and belted kingfishers, as well as local snapping turtles. The best time of day to visit is the early morning, when the night-blooming flowers are still open (they close up when it hits 90°) and the mosquitoes aren’t feeding.