Fed by the tidal waters of the Anacostia River, the gardens are nestled in the very northeast corner of the city, in a run-down, garbage-stewn neighbourhood of the city that stands in stark contrast to the serene beauty and tranquility of the gardens to which it plays host.
I’ve been coming to these 700-acre gardens to photograph the lotuses annually for the past seven years. Every year, it’s a challenge to find fresh visions and new compositions to photograph these exquisite, delicate flowers.
While there are thousands of lotuses in bloom on any given day, there are an even greater number that are still at the budding stage and still others that are approaching the end of their lives and falling apart, their large, heavy leaves eventually getting the better of the slender stems on which the enormous bulbs are so precariously, so impermanently perched.
In conversation with one of the Park Rangers, I learned that each flower blossoms for only three days. Given the thousands of lotuses in the garden’s ponds, the entire blooming season lasts only about six weeks from early July to mid-August.
Six weeks of perfect, pristine beauty, yet the park is maintained year-round by the National Park Service. It’s worth it.