Of the many gems we have in the Richmond Metro area, Maymont may be the crown jewel. Maymont is a 100 acre Victorian era estate that was gifted from James and Sallie Dooley to the city of Richmond upon Sally’s death in 1925. Maymont is ranked in the top 25 public gardens in North America. It has 12 distinct gardens, some of which are Dooley originals. I had the pleasure of spending part of an afternoon recently at Maymont speaking with Peggy Singlemann, Director of Horticulture, as well as the host of WCVE’s Virginia Home Grown. Peggy is passionate about Maymont, the environment, and was a wonderful host.
I asked Peggy the following questions:
- Are there any new plants or plantings at Maymont this year?
Yes, they have deconstructed the cactus garden and replaced it with a fragrant garden. Think of it as year-round aroma therapy without the candles or having to stand with your nose in a flower.
The garden contains lilac, daphne, peonies, calycanthus, fothergilla, osmanthus, and sweet shrub.
That is enough fragrance to make the sourest of days a little sweeter.
- Do you have any advice on plants for pollinators?
Landscapes should have trees, shrubs, grasses, and perennials. Plants that have evolved with the pollinators are better. Consider planting a variety of native species to the piedmont region. It is more than just pollen, its creating habitat for the pollinators.
Maymont features a series of butterfly gardens known as Maries Butterfly Trail. The trail opened in 2009 and has provided me and other gardeners with ideas on attracting these wonderful creatures.
- What are some interesting facts about Maymont?
Maymont is home to the oldest public Japanese garden on the east coast, home to seven state champion trees and one national champion tree. The national champion Darlington Oak is located at Maymont.
Peggy is proud of her staff of four full-time employees and a volunteer group large enough to equal five and a half full time employees. Peggy appreciates volunteers and I am confident if you have the interest she will have a job for you.
- Do you have any advice for homeowners?
Do not impulse buy. Do your research and visit your local garden center. Talk with the staff that are knowledgeable and want to help you make the correct purchase.
It’s a beautiful time of year to get outside and visit Maymont.