Photographs taken by Phil Taplin
In honor of World Wetlands Day in February, Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens hosted 100 volunteers for a fun day of restoration activities at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a local treasure of Northeast Washington, DC. The Park’s lush wetlands are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, and its waters flow directly into the Anacostia River and onward to the Potomac.
Nestled along the Anacostia River, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens provide a unique green space for adults and children alike to experience nature in the heart of the District. Local citizens and Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are fighting to preserve this community treasure from the mounting pressures it faces from urban runoff, trash flowing downstream, and invasive plants among other threats.
Tina O’Connell, Program and Volunteer Coordinator for Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, coordinated the February 22 cleanup event in partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). Tina explains, “Our volunteers greatly enhance the Park’s forests, wetlands, and ponds and also improve every visitor’s experience through trail, gardening and landscaping projects.”
Energized by an unseasonably warm winter day, volunteers came together from Howard University, American University, and other service organizations to preserve, beautify and enjoy the Park. Participants got their hands dirty by helping with invasive species removal, trash pickup, and native plantings. Not bad for a day’s work!
Ed Stierli, NPCA Chesapeake Bay Field Representative, attended the day and works closely with parks and their partners throughout the greater Chesapeake Bay region. Ed is excited to see that, “organizations like Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Anacostia Watershed Society are leading an effort that’s connecting thousands of residents from the surrounding community with the river and our national parks.”
Insert: Ed picture, title, and quote “Almost one hundred volunteers coming out on a winter weekend to restore Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens exemplifies the energy and excitement for national parks along the Anacostia.
If you’d like to visit the Park and help with restoration efforts, join Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens on May 17 for the Good Neighbor Day event. Volunteers will spend the morning working on Park projects and the afternoon enjoying the Park and each other with food, music, tours, face painting, and other family friendly activities. You can also find additional volunteer and Park activities by visiting Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Garden’s event page.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is the only national park devoted to cultivated water-loving plants. The park is an amazing place to visit year round. Visitors can take in breathtaking views of the water lilies in the spring and summer, and enjoy the Park’s more quiet beauty in the fall and winter months.
The white flowering, hardy water lilies bloom from early May until mid-September and the stunning sea of pink lotus flowers peaks in late June and lasts until mid-August, with the peak bloom in July. This year’s annual Water Lily & Lotus Festival will be held on July 19. It’s a must see event! Bring friends and family and enjoy this wonderful event filled with art, music, games and amazing blooms.
Visit the park in July and August and you’ll hit peak blooming season for the tropical lilies, located behind the visitor’s center. You can catch the beautiful Victoria water lily when it blooms for a brief period in August. Be sure to visit on cool days or early in the morning as most of the blooms will close in the mid-day heat.
In addition to the aquatic plants, the Park features over 40 species of birds, including ospreys, herons, and bald eagles. A variety of turtles, dragonflies, butterflies and snakes can be found too. Be sure to bring your binoculars and hiking boots!
Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has existed for over ten years as an all-volunteer 501(c)3 organization, connecting people to the Park through service, education, and recreation. Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens hosts neighbors and Washington, DC Metro residents at monthly volunteer events and larger events to celebrate Earth Day (April 5) and National Public Lands Day (September 27). Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens also raises money and builds partnerships to ensure a vibrant “neighborhood” national park for the Washington, DC Metro residents and beyond.
In 2013, Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and its volunteers removed over 4.7 tons of trash, expanded the annual flower beds, planted new trees, removed invasive species, and mucked out the ponds.
To learn more about Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, visit their website at www.friendsofkenilworthgardens.org.
National Park Conservation Association
The National Park Conservation Association protects and enhances America’s National Parks for present and future generations. One of the ways NPCA supports national parks in the region is through the Freedom to Float effort, a growing coalition that works to expand access for boating and recreation along waterways in the Chesapeake Bay. NPCA has been a leading partner in rallying community support for the restoration of the Anacostia River and has helped with the Anacostia Watertrail and the 20 mile Riverwalk hiking and biking trail – both set to be completed in 2014.
To learn more about NPCA’s Freedom to Float campaign, please visit www.npca.org/protecting-our-parks/air-land-water/great-waters/freedomtofloat/.