Marie’s Butterfly Trail
This floral trail was completed in 2009. It begins just east of the Children’s Farm barn, and fills spaces along the roadway between the horse and cow pastures and down the hill to the Bobcat habitat. The flower beds are filled with yarrow, butterfly weed, cone flowers, butterfly bushes, sunflowers, blue spirea, herbs and other butterfly-attracting plants. Signage describes the butterfly’s life cycle an why certain plants entice these winged beauties to linger. Want to start your own butterfly garden? Get tips from Maymont’s Butterfly Garden. Funding for the Butterfly Trail was provided by Jack and Mary Spain in memory of Jack’s mother, Marie Spain.
The Carriage House Garden
This garden is not an original part of the Maymont estate as designed by the Dooleys. The wall enclosing the garden was built by the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s. This garden is filled with shrubs, bulbs, perennials and annuals, offering a constant array of color. The Carriage House Garden is located amidst Maymont’s original architectural complex and is most convenient to Maymont’s Historic Estate entrance.
Created around 1911, the Grotto is a very rare example in the United States of a garden feature popular from ancient Rome through the Rococo period. Simulated grottoes such as the one at Maymont were incorporated into picturesque landscapes to reflect the hidden and dark aspect of nature in contrast to bright uplands and flower gardens. Originally separated both physically and thematically from the adjacent oriental landscape, the Grotto was absorbed into the Japanese Garden in a 1970s renovation.
Noland and Baskervill, designers of the Italian Garden, also designed the Grotto. It was originally lined with cave formations, and water channeled from a nearby spring dripped down its stalagmites to gather in a shallow pool that formed its floor. Statues of sleeping lions, based on originals by Canova, flank the Grotto. The Grotto is a very important element of the original estate landscape. This unique landscape feature was restored in 2006 with with a grant from the 1772 Foundation. The Grotto is located on the north border of the Japanese Garden.
The Herb Garden
Donated by the Richmond Council of Garden Clubs in 1957, the Herb Garden has been maintained by the Old Dominion Herb Society since 1978. This garden displays herbs for culinary, medicinal and potpourri uses. Herbs are organically grown so visitors may touch, smell and taste. The Herb Garden is the centerpiece of Maymont’s annual “Herbs Galore” festival and sale. It is located beside the original Stone Barn and is most convenient to Maymont’s Historic Estate entrance.
Maymont Mansion Ornamental Lawn
The six-acre ornamental lawn was renovated in 2000, the culmination of a two-year project by the Garden Club of Virginia. The late-Victorian ornamental grounds now appear as they did during the Dooley era (1893-1925). Restoration was carefully conducted using period documentation, photographs, aerial views and even watercolors from the Maymont archives. Work included the replacement and/or repair of original walkways, rose arbors, bowers, specimen trees and the re-installation of a large shrub labyrinth, in the shape of a wagon wheel. Based on observations of lawn discoloration and slight depressions, the shrub labyrinth now stands precisely in its original location and includes shrubs and evergreens invoiced and mapped in the Dooley archives. The Maymont Mansion Lawn is most convenient to Maymont’s Historic Estate entrance.
A Native Virginia Landscape
It was a logical choice to choose a native Virginia landscape for the grounds of the Nature & Visitor Center. After all, the Center exclusively features wildlife native to Virginia’s James River. Native Virginia trees and shrubs now fill 1,314 holes surrounding the Nature Center, including its parking area and surrounding hillsides. Plants like Virginia Sweetspire, Clethra alnifolia; Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia; Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum; and Sourwood, Oxydendron arboreum were chosen for their ability to withstand the poorly drained and compacted soil found at the site. When visiting the Nature & Visitor Center, take the opportunity to learn about native Virginia plants.
Jack’s Vegetable Garden
The vegetable garden was expanded in 2008. The area, located beside the Children’s Farm barn, features walkways on two sides for easy viewing and contains a series of 11 raised beds, a cold frame, unique containers and a demonstration compost area to show the benefits of recycling garden refuse. Harvests may include tomatoes, carrots, green beans, corn and pumpkins. The plot promotes simple gardening techniques in which the whole family can participate. Funding for the Vegetable Garden was provided by Jack and Mary Spain in memory of Jack’s father, Jack Spain.
The Via Florum Garden
This gem of the estate flourishes along the walkways from Maymont Mansion to the Italian Garden. In classic, formal Italian gardens, the house is incorporated or connected to the main garden. Maymont’s “Via Florum” or “flowering way,” exemplifies the influence of Italian landscape design on the Dooleys’ estate. A stone arch with the Latin inscription, “Via Florum,” marks the transition from informal parkland into the enclosed world of the Italian Garden. This area was restored with funds from the Maymont Council. The Via Florum Garden is most convenient to Maymont’s Historic Estate entrance.
Maymont’s Wetland Habitat
You may have walked by the wetland habitat dozens of times through the years without even noticing. The low-lying area near the fox habitat south of the Children’s Farm is naturalized and contains plants that are native to Virginia. With a grant from the Gwathmey Foundation in 2009, we were able to bring more attention to the space with a new overlook and signage co-sponsored by the Community Foundation. Bald cypress and red twig dogwood were planted, as well. Wetlands are considered the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems. A wetland is defined as an area where the soil is saturated with moisture either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs and similar areas found between dry land and water. Referred to as natural sponges, wetlands absorb flood waters and filter ground and surface water, removing and retaining excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Some plants that you may find in the wetland here are leatherwood, buttonbush, winterberry, pussywillow, elderberry and snowbell. Wetlands are one of the most productive habitats for feeding, nesting, spawning, resting and cover for wildlife, including many rare and endangered species. Even in a wetland as small as ours, it is not unusual to see birds, dragonflies, turtles and snakes.