Creative Process

Seeing Lotus Flower Fields for the First Time

I first came to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC in search of the dragonflies. Following the dragonflies graceful territorial battles with each other and hunting down the damselflies are one of my favorite activities in the summer. It was late June when a fellow dragonfly lover told me about the dragonflies at Kenilworth, and I immediately headed over. By the way, they said, there’s a lot of water plants in bloom for them to land on.

You won’t see the large fields of lotus flowers when you first arrive. The size of the ponds are so massive that the louts flowers look like specks  of color dotted among greens despite the flowers being as tall as the average adult. The beautiful, indescribable scent of the lotus flower in full bloom teases your nose, inviting you to come deeper into the fields. As you go deeper into the ponds and gardens, their size grows and the magenta, pink, white, and yellow colors of the flowers slowly emerge.

Kenilworth has various types of lotus flowers, but they are known for their Manchurian lotus flowers (Nelumbo nucifera) which have blooms a foot wide. Each flower has over a dozen individual petals that seem to move and dance on their own in the wind. The flower itself opens and closes every morning and night. Some lotus flowers are said to go back into the water each night to re-emerge in the morning.Each lotus flower will last about 3 days before dropping it’s leaves to reveal a multi-chambered fruit containing seeds.

As I read the instructional guides posted throughout the garden by the National Park Service, I learned that some of the lotus flowers that I was looking at were 2,000 years old. Walking around the lotus flower fields was an amazing experience and a delight for the senses. I took several photos for use later in a painting. Little did I know at the time that a new obsession to rival my dragonfly obsession was forming.

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