I had the fortune to visit Maymont with fellow Match writer Bryce Ritter (’17) for not just one day, but two consecutive days. Both days we were trying to beat the elusive 5:00 p.m. closing time. As anyone who has been to Maymont or even downtown Richmond knows, it can be difficult to find your way around. The difficulty of navigation, paired with our lack of timeliness, caused us to almost miss the petting zoo both days. Unfortunately, during my second visit I learned that the two otters that I grew up visiting at Maymont’s Nature Center had passed away. This is not the first animal death Maymont has faced in the past. The death of a beloved bear under controversial circumstances was all too recent.
On the first day of our visit we decided to walk through the Japanese garden. Ritter, Sam Cuttino, and Alex Britto, (also esteemed members of the class of ‘17) accompanied me. The garden is introduced by a beautiful stone staircase and fountain. The further that you walk down the cascading stairway, the more the trees provide shade, and the Japanese influence of the garden’s design becomes more evident. The stairway is a smooth transition from standard parts of the park into the completely different section. After walking down the staircase and path, the clearing opens, overlooking a waterfall. The sheer size of the fall is impossible to see from the top.
The entire Japanese garden is built around a man-made pond, accented by beautiful flowers and trees, as well as an island gazebo. A path leads all the way around the pond and is peppered with statues and micro-gardens. The most notable nook on the path is a small cave with stalactites and stalagmites lining its rim, giving it the appearance of teeth. Within the pond is an island that is filled with cherry blossom trees. A stepping stone path leads to the island across a small amount of water. The land around the pond is made unusual by multiple small hills. The hills give the garden an interesting silhouette because they seem so out of place.
Visiting the garden costs no money, and it is open to the public. Anyone that desires is able to walk throughout Maymont without trouble. The park provides an amazing environment to simply marvel at the beauty of plants, animals, and stunning landscaping.
All photos by Sam Hunter.