Secret Worlds of Summer The Oasis

The Life Aquatic

"To hear the rain hit the big leaves: It sounds tropical, like listening to rain on the banana leaves. Or like rain on a tin roof," says Doug Rowley, gardener supervisor at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. (By Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
By Darragh Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer. Such an uncomplicated season. Winter's menace and spring's frenzy are over.

With calmer spirits, we emerge into the sunlight, relaxed enough to ponder mysteries

of the universe. This year's Metro summer series continues.

Summer has slowed to slog and drag. The heat churns high -- scorching, stifling -- and green grass cowers. Midsummer is a vampire.

But not here.

Here, just beyond Northeast Washington public housing, beyond broken bottle glass scattered like mosaics of alienation and anger -- here lies Eden.

The lotus are blooming. In the worst months of Washington's summer, as other flowers wither in the exhausting sun, the lotus stretch five feet and higher, reaching for the sky.

Thousands of waterlilies are unfolding in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. Nearly 45 ponds fill with Red Flare and Afterglow, Josephine and Madame Walska, all soft pinks and pure whites, each keeping a promise made by Claude Monet. Here, amid urban struggle and neglect, lies an unexpected oasis of rarely seen blossoms, an almost secret sanctuary.

Arriving brings such a vivid surprise that there seems only one reaction:

"It's amazing!" exclaims Kathy Calhoun, visiting from Detroit.

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