Located in north eastern Washington, DC, Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens gives the Washington, DC annual cherry blossoms a run for their money. So-to-speak. While the gardens are not as well-known, they are certainly beautiful in their own right.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

We’d actually never heard of the gardens until our daughter-in-law strongly encouraged us to go see for ourselves; especially, because we weren’t able to visit the annual cherry blossoms because of Covid-19. The gardens didn’t disappoint. We’d never seen anything quite like it.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”– Zen Shin

As I write this, the outside temperature is pushing 100 degrees (37C). If you’ve ever visited the east coast in summer, you understand the concept of swamp-like weather. On the day we visited Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens, the temp was right around 90 degrees. Funny thing is, it felt appropriate as the gardens are a bit swampy themselves. But, oh, out of the swamp wetlands blooms awesome beauty.

Shaw Gardens

Now operated by the National Park Service, Kenilworth Park was the idea of Walter Shaw in the 1880’s. He purchased the land (swamp) on the flat shores of the Anacostia River, cleaned the pond and planted lilies. Known as Shaw Gardens, it became a commercial success for Walter and his daughter, Helen.

Kentilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”– Audrey Hepburn
Helen Shaw Fowler

Eventually, Helen took over as proprietor of the gardens. In the 1930’s Helen fought to save the gardens from the encroaching Anacostia River project. Congress purchased eight acres, from Helen, for $15,000. The gardens were incorporated in to the Anacostia River Park, thus ensuring her father’s legacy.

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”– Frances Hodgson Burnett

I love little discoveries such as the story of Walter and Helen. I imagine most people who visit the park, like we did, have no idea of how it came to be. Helen, must have been a woman before her time, knowing what endless wonder the gardens would provide for generations to come.

  • Tuesday Takes. Each post in the series focuses on one or two photos, or possibly a video, from our travels, as well as the background story behind the photo(s). Tuesday Takes are shared in random order with no rhyme or reason as to why. It will be a surprise for all of us.
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