$4 suggested donatioon for the House and Nature Center
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In 1886, Major and Mrs. James H. Dooley acquired a former dairy farm on the James River in what was then Henrico County. From rough fields and pastures, they created a showplace of the type in vogue among the American millionaires of the Gilded Age. Completion of their opulent mansion in 1893 was only the beginning, and throughout the next three decades, the Dooleys continued to develop the grounds of their estate. Maymont today includes many attractions, but for many, the greatest pleasure of Maymont is the expansive 100-acre tract of parkland and gardens, still very much as the Dooleys left it.
With high bluffs, massive rock outcroppings, streams and ravines, Maymont´s dramatic fall-line terrain provided an excellent palette for the creation of an eclectic style landscape of the type in fashion for country estates such as Maymont at the turn of the century. Wealthy, well-traveled Victorians, like the Dooleys, expressed their enthusiasm for historical design, for exotic cultures and for nature through the architecture, furnishings and the elaborate landscapes of their estates. At Maymont, rolling lawns in the English park style form a naturalistic backdrop connecting the major components of the landscape.
For lovers of horticulture, garden design and architectural history, Maymont is appreciated as an unusually complete and significant example of an American country place of the Gilded Age, a distinctive estate on the grand scale for which luxurious landscaping was an essential part.
Maymont´s Japanese Garden is a blend of several different styles of Japanese gardens and two distinct periods of design. In 1911, the Dooleys purchased a wedge-shaped section of the Kanawha Canal that bordered Maymont. To create their garden, they hired Muto, a master Japanese gardener who had designed gardens for other estates along the East Coast.
The original garden encompassed a much smaller area than the garden today. Over the years after the death of Mrs. Dooley, the garden gradually lost much of its original splendor and detail. In 1978, the garden was renovated by Barry Starke of Earth Design. From Muto´s original design, stonework around the base of the waterfall, several trees and the winding watercourse that leads to the large pond remain. Through federal grants and the ongoing support of Ikebana of Richmond, the garden has evolved over the years to include traditional elements of a Japanese stroll garden, one which offers the visitor changing impressions of nature as the various areas come into view. Carefully pruned trees and shrubs, raked sand pools, stone groupings and water features are intended to create the affect of an old, naturally developed landscape. The pond is populated with Koi, Japanese goldfish of the carp family. A grant from the William B. Thalhimer Foundation and Family supported the completion of the renovation.
The site includes trained and pruned trees and shrubs, raked sand pools, stone groupings and multiple water areas -- all designed to create the impression of an old, naturally developed landscape. Design elements include stone lanterns, paths and bridges. Green, brown and gray colors are emphasized to represent the ruggedness of natural scenery. Flowers are used discreetly. Water iris bloom along the water´s edge in spring, followed by the floating blooms of the water lily in summer.
One of the most recent additions to the Garden is the northern entrance gate, a traditional archway. Other new refinements include additional plantings by the pond, three new lanterns and a new pathway along the pond. These and other renovations have been made possible through the ongoing support of Ikebana of Richmond, federal grants and the William B. Thalhimer and Family Foundation.
A Japanese Garden Guide is available at Maymont which provides interpretive information, blending horticulture, history and Japanese symbolism to enrich your appreciation of<
The flowers withered,
Their color faded away,
I spent my days in the world
And the long rains were falling.