It wasn’t until my senior year at Georgetown that I happened to be walking down R Street with my mom and came upon an entrance to the parks behind Dumbarton Oaks. I had been to the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, but never the parks behind it, which stretch farther back than I even knew. Rock Creek runs through it and there are beautiful trees. It’s like not being in the city anymore.
So I began to realize how little I knew about the green space around me, and once I knew that I’d be in DC full-time, I decided I needed to know where I could go for some time with the trees. It was lucky that I happened to come across Field Guide to the Natural World of Washington, D.C. by Howard Youth in Kramerbooks. It has extended information on parks big and small throughout the entire city, including how to get to each of those places by public transit and the kinds of habitats there. It also contains a lot of history of those places which you wouldn’t get if you only focused on the human-oriented aspects of those places.
Then, beautiful illustrations and helpful information come together in the actual field guide of animals, birds, trees, plants, mushrooms, and more. If you’re a DC resident, the book is worth having for the beauty of the illustrations alone, but if you’re like me, you’ll be excited to bring the book with you and identify some of the wildlife native to
the DMV area. I also love how each organism entry details the ecological role. The book is also not naive to the human influence on the Mid-Atlantic. There is a section about the non-native plants since those have a huge influence on the ecology of the area.