Seas of Lilies & Lotus in DC!
Turn right off a Northeast neighborhood street then a left into the park entrance. Walk into a sea of lilies and lotus stretching across the horizon to the Anacostia River. How did Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens happen?
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens was developed by Civil War veteran WB Shaw. He brought water lilies and lotus from Maine and started a farm and a family in the heart of the District on the banks of the Anacostia River.
WB’s children grew up around the marsh and the botanical activities of their father. One can imagine them at his elbow learning about lilies and helping to build the ponds, Joe Lapp.
Helen Fowler, WB's daughter, took over the farm in 1912. She was famed for her rare and fabulous flowers and was a fierce business woman. Helen saw the threat from the Army Corps of Engineers dredging and fought the seizure saving the ponds from obliteration. She land the farm continued until she passed in 1957.
The federal government bought the land and made Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens a National Park. The only park dedicated to aquatic plants. And with canoe and kayak parking!
A DC Neighborhood by the Anacostia River: Kenilworth by Joe Lapp is a great read on history of the community. Thanks DC Office of Planning!
#ComeToTheRiver for community history 🌊
Shaw family in the ponds circa 1900's, Ruth Shaw Watts photo collection. Lilies in bloom July 2018