Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Car-free DC: Kenilworth Gardens

This is the fifth article in a series on hikes in DC that can be reached by public transportation.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is located across the Anacostia River from the National Arboretum. It was started as a private garden in the 1880's, and was purchased by the Park Service in the 1930's. The park includes both local and imported plants, but features exotic water lilies. Different varieties of lily are in bloom from late May through early September. Morning is the best time to see them; the flowers close when the temperature rises above 89 degrees. In keeping with this, the park has unusual hours: 7 AM to 4 PM.

Even if the water lilies are from far away, the wildlife that graces the park are all locals seeking out the wetland habitat. The 14 acres of cultivated gardens are surrounded by 77 acres of marsh, which supports much diversity. In 1992, the Park Service began a major wetlands restoration that planted native plants such as cattail and wild rice along the river. A short boardwalk gives access to this marsh area; there is also a short path along the river. You may see waterfowl, dragonflies, and possibly beavers and muskrats.

The entrance to the Aquatic Gardens is at 1550 Anacostia Avenue between Douglas Street and Quarles Street. To get there by public transportation, take the Orange Line to the Deanwood station. Walking west from the station, use the pedestrian overpass to cross 295 (Kenilworth Avenue), then turn left (west) on Douglass Street and make a right on Anacostia Avenue to reach the gardens. This is a walk of less than a mile. To shorten the walk, take the V7 or V8 bus from the east side of the Deanwood station to the intersection of Kenilworth Avenue and Douglass Street, then walk to Anacostia Avenue.

Other info:

Dogs are allowed in the park, but must remain on leash. Please scoop your poop.

There isn't really space for a good bike ride in this park.

Do you have other tips on Kenilworth Gardens, or experiences to report? Make a comment!