DC Hidden Gem Ready to Shine as Lotus and Water Lily Festival Begins

WASHINGTON — Every spring, millions of tourists and locals alike flock to see D.C.’s cherry blossoms in full bloom.

But there’s another national park tucked away in a corner of Southeast D.C. that offers spectacular blossoms over acres of gardens, and that’s the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens — the only national park dedicated to aquatic gardens.

July is when the aquatic gardens shine. And this weekend, the park will kick off the Lotus and Water Lily Festival, a weeklong event featuring hands-on activities for the kids, gardening demonstrations for the grown-ups and natural beauty on display for everyone.

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Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is home to acres of lotuses and water lilies, which will be on full display this weekend for the Lotus and Water Lily Festival. The weeklong event featuring hands-on activities for the kids, gardening demonstrations for the grown-ups and natural beauty on display for everyone. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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Mark Kallal, the garden supervisor at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, talks about the upcoming Lotus and Water Lily Festival. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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A lotus blossom blooms at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on Tuesday. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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Frank Hamilton, one of the gardeners at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, shows reporters how the Victoria lilies are planted on Tuesday. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"ad","media":"

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A water lily blooms at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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The park features acres of picturesque lotus blossoms. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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The festival will feature lotus blossoms from all over the world as well as local ones. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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Tom Engel and Frank Hamilton plant a Victoria lily. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"ad","media":"

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Visitors come from all over the world to see the exotic plants at Kenilwork Park and Aquatic Gardens. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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A seed pod after blooming water lilies is seen at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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A visitor hangs out on a lotus blossom that has yet to bloom. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"photo","media":"

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The park offers acres of beauty, which will be on full display during the weeklong Lotus and Water Lily Festival. (WTOP\/Kate Ryan)\n"},{"type":"ad","media":"

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Mark Kallal enjoys showing off the acres of blossoms that float on the surface of the water, or tower over green pads that measure 3 to 5 feet in diameter.

“Hopefully we’ll have a great turnout this weekend. That’s what we’re looking for, a lot of happy people” he said.

Visitors from all over the world come to see the exotic water lilies and lotus plants. Many of the plants are from Asia, India and Africa, but Kallal said there are some native plants as well.

Original greenhouses at the site date from 1913 and Kallal said they’re kept warm to nurture the lilies and the lotus plants, which get their start in large bathtub sized containers. On a summer day, it’s not easy being inside the greenhouses for long; the temperature can hit 125 to 130 degrees on a day when the temperature outdoors climbs into the 90s.

Kallal and gardener Frank Hamilton took reporters out to see how the Victoria lilies are planted. Those are the plants with massive platter-sized pads with rims around the edges.

“That’s the lily that grows up to 10 feet in diameter. Usually in this location, we’ll have 6-foot diameter leaves. So maybe by August or September they’ll be that size.”

For more details on events and what to bring, visit the park service’s website.

The post DC hidden gem ready to shine as Lotus and Water Lily Festival begins appeared first on WTOP.

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