Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

We decided to head to the Maryland / DC border to try out a Texas BBQ restaurant. 2Fifty Texas Barbecue was legit – just like the real thing down in Texas! Afterwards, we needed walk around a bit so headed to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, just a few minutes away on the DC side. Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is part of the larger Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, a unit of the National Park Service.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens lies next to the Anacostia River, directly across from the National Arboretum. This small park was created to help revitalize this marshy area which was destroyed by development. The Anacostia River is, well, lets just say not someplace one would want to go swimming as it flows into the Potomac south of DC.

The area of the gardens nearest to the visitor center and parking lot consists of a number of ponds filled with various types of aquatic plants. The most visible and identifiable of these plants were the water lilies. They were all over the place, some with white flowers in bloom.

We saw a few buds as well. We didn’t see many but they are not nearly as visible as the bloomed flowers.

After walking a bit further in, we started to see a few light pink flowers! They were greatly outnumbered by the white ones. There were various shades from light pink to almost white.

Either a dragonfly or a damselfly, one of many that we saw flying around everywhere. The only thing I know about the difference, thanks to my entomologist college roommate, is that damselflies stow their wings at rest and dragonflies hold all four extended. This one is holding them forwards so I have no idea!

In this scene, we see a dragon or damselfly at rest with wings extended.

As we were walking, we noticed this fella. It seemed to be larger than the others and had black markings on each wing. Maybe this is a dragonfly? We didn’t notice any other instances of this particular insect.

The ponds also held tiny little fish like these. They seemed to gather on the muddy edges of the ponds.

These appear to be Iris pseudacorus, more commonly known as yellow flag or yellow iris according to Wikipedia. They were everywhere, particularly near the walking paths.

Eventually, the path led to a boardwalk that goes through a marshy area directly adjacent to the Anacostia River. Definitely wouldn’t want to try walking down there!

The entire area surrounding the boardwalk was densely packed with various aquatic plants.

Upon reaching the end, we noticed kayakers in the Anacostia River. Hopefully the pollution has reduced in recent years!

This grassy area reminded me of the Prairie Wind Overlook at the Badlands National Park. Though much greener, not nearly as windy, and not nearly as cold.

The lotuses are highly hydrophobic – water is repelled by their surface resulting in interesting behavior of water drops. The Wikipedia article is interesting and leads to some math!

We thought this damsel or dragonfly was drinking water, though we don’t know if they actually drink water. It looks like it is actually consuming a smaller insect of some sort.

One thing we did not see was turtles enjoying the sun. But we did see some small ones in the ponds. This one would come to the surface to pop its head out and take a look around before quickly retreating below.

We eventually came across these deep pink colored flowers! They were clustered in this area near the visitor center and didn’t seem to be present anywhere else.

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