Swannanoah: A peek inside . View 1. looking down

Standing at the top, look down, there are so many amazing things to see.

Standing at the top, look down, there are so many amazing things to see.

Preview Post Some staircases are so cool, especially when they just keep on going, from one floor, to the next, up or down. Add light to the sheer coolness of the stairs themselves and you get a double dose of delight, teasing the mind and the eye.  I went to Swannanoah today.  They will be open one more weekend this fall, then they will open their doors again in the spring of the year. If you’ve checked out any of my Maymont Posts, you will see that the Dooley’s, the owners of this palace, also owned Maymont in Richmond, Virginia.  Unlike Swannanoah, which fell into the hands of siblings, Maymont was donated to the City of Richmond, and as a result has been maintained, both through city funds and generous private donations. Everybody loves Maymont. Swannonoah, the Dooly’s summer home is currently privately owned and is under renovation. and is opened to tours periodically, for the time being. It is rumored that the owners are hoping to turn the palace into a Hotel, Bed and Breakfast, or similar. The palace is supposed to be haunted and they do some spooky stuff on top of Afton Mountain at certain times of the year. Wikipedia has an article on the Estate, and there are articles if I’ve tickled your curiosity, here. I took some cool photos today, and will share more of them here and there. Right now, I’m going to bed. Besides, I think when you post ‘um one at a time, each photo basks in its own glory a wee bit more. For now, please enjoy this capture in the afternoon sun.

Sunday Photo Challenge . Shelter #2

My last entry in Jake’s Challenge for this week was rather humble, but this one tops that one. I’m sure the goats and sheep at Maymont Park appreciate this little Shelter, though, when the sun is beating down on a hot summer’s day.

The fence serves as the ridge beam for this quaint little shelter serving two pastures.

Or maybe a piggy house is more up your alley.

This little piggy house isn't made of brick, but I doubt there are any wolves around either, so all is good in the neighborhood.

At night, the Maymont critters are taken into the barn until the next morning, when they are put back on display for everyone to enjoy. In the meantime, they are sheltered from the weather and any predators that might be lurking about in the dark.

Of course not all of the animals are suited for the barn, so they have their own shelter.  Sometimes they prefer to sleep on top of it, instead of inside it.

Silly Fox. Doesn't he know he's supposed to be sleeping in the log?

Weekly Photo Challenge . Unusual

Okay, so it’s a statue, but it’s not one you’re apt to find on your local street corner. This statue was dedicated to the thousands of children that visit/have visited Maymont Park over the years. It has been in place for at least twenty years now. My own children played on it when they were small.

Children playing on a log at Maymont Park in Richmond, Virginia.

Weekly photo challenge . Unusual #2

This isn’t your typical path, well, unless you’re at Maymont Park in Richmond, Virginia. Then you never know what types of egress paths you might encounter, taking you from point A to B. I always loved the rustic charm of this particular path. I thought you might find it interesting too.

Railroad ties serve as steps, here and there. Don't get too used to the symmetry of the stairs. There isn't any.

Maymont Park . The Italian Gardens . Part 1

To date, I’ve introduced you to Maymont Park in general, then I’ve taken you for a walk through the Japanese Gardens, parts 1 & 2. In addition, I did a post focusing on the Maymont Bears. Now it is time to take a peek at the Italian Gardens.

Stairs leading from the Italian Gardens down to the Japanese gardens below

It seems only appropriate to begin with the stairs going up the hill to the gardens. The lower paths at the base of these stairs are a bit rough, but there is a bench at the bottom of this stair set to allow a little reprieve during the climb, should the need arise.

The walkways are the perfect place to run and play if you are a little critter. Thankfully, there is a wall on the outer edge to keep you from falling over the side. It is a long way down.

One of the fountains in the gardens. These are beautiful in the summertime, especially when the beds are in bloom.

A trellised walkway edges the North side of the garden and provides an arbor for vines to grow on.

Looking across the garden is a domed gazebo which is a popular wedding spot. The park earns money by renting this area and if you can afford it, Maymont is THE place to get married. You can revisit anytime you wish after you've taken your vows. In the summertime, the landscaping is awesome.

Maymont Park . The Japanese Gardens . part 2

In another post, I began the tour of these beautiful garden … see part 1. These are a few more photographs to pick up where that post left off. I will add more in a future post. For now, please feel free to browse the beauty of Maymont.

Typical garden path in the springtime.

A view by the pond

Feeding the fish

Path to the gazebo

Maymont Park . The Japanese Gardens . Part 1

I introduced you to Maymont Park in Richmond, Virginia a couple of weeks ago. My first post on the subject was kind of a general overview. Then, I did a post about the Maymont Bears. Because Maymont is so large and due to the fact that I have so many photos, I thought It might be better to share some of those shots in short blogs offering multiple postings spread out a bit to keep things interesting. This is part 1 (as the title suggests) of one portion of the park… The Japanese Gardens. Mrs. Dooley was a horticulturist and worked with well known architects of the time to achieve her goals. Many of the trees in the park today have been standing for over 100 years. Many were planted under the direction of Mrs. Dooley herself. Of course, now, those trees are huge and no doubt could tell some wonderful stories of the park, if they could talk.

Entry gate leading into the Japanese Gardens.

It only seems appropriate to enter the garden via the formal gate.

A typical path in the garden

Take a little path (not really this one,but it is close) and look to your left. There you will see the waterfalls. High on the hill above is a flat layer of rocks from which a natural spring pours water over the edge of the cliff, thus forming the falls. It is a favorite resting spot for us when we visit. It is also a great backdrop for family portraits.

The water fall in the Japanese Garden

And of course a Japanese Garden is not complete without an arched bridge to add character. So wallah, one arched bridge coming right up. If you look up, you can see the stone wall surrounding the Italian Garden high on the hill above. That will be the subject of another post on another day.

The arched bridge. One way to cross the water.

If you would rather cross the water, using the stepping stones then by all means, come along with me, or rather Jacob.

Crossing the water via stepping stones.

These few photos should give you a good feel for the Japanese Gardens. They are merely the appetizer. They is more to come.Check out part 2 by clicking here.

The Maymont Bears

Recently, I introduced you to Maymont Park in General. Today’s focus is on the Bears that reside there. Over the years, different Bears have been lucky enough to call Maymont Park Home. These bears don’t have to worry about being hunted or where they will find food. They have ample room to roam and a large pond to frolic in on hot summer days. Not to mention, they have plenty of visitors who marvel at their size and beauty.

The bear display is on the left.

If you come to the bear display from the petting farm, the enclosure is on your left. There is a sheltered area under the sign boards, somewhat underground. I don’t have any photos to share, but you can take my word for it. The backboard of the structure shown is used to display announcements for upcoming events as well as artwork done by the children from local schools. It is a nice place to sit and rest for a few minutes and from which to observe the bears through the windows. As you can see, there are also permanent plaques with information about the bears and other wildlife that share their habitat.

The Bear Enclosure at Maymont Park

Showing off for an audience.

The bears seems to enjoy the attention. Sadly, about five years ago, a mother and her young son (5 years old ?) visited the bears. Despite the signs clearly stating the bears were not to be fed, and the walls with plastic windows (allowing the children to view the bears), Mom just had to break the rules. Her irresponsible actions costs two of the bears their lives.

Time for a swim

Bear Watching

The woman decided to let her child hand feed the bears an apple. She went beyond the lower fence on the far side of their enclosure, then let her child feed the bear through a second chain linked fence. When the bear reached for the apple, he scratched the boy accidentally. Since no one knew which bear scratched the child, both bears were destroyed. It was not like the kid was attacked, but the park officials panicked and after a brief meeting decided the only thing to do was to euthanize the bears to test them for rabies. Their feeble excuse was that the bears could not be quarantined. Hello! The bears WERE quarantined all along. This was not a bear attack, it was an accident that could have been avoided altogether. The people of Richmond and the surrounding areas were outraged. Then to add insult to injury, the bears corpses were hauled off to the local dump. That little move really iced the cake. The backboard shown above was filled with teddy bears and notes of grievance and anger, directed at those responsible for the decision to have the bears ‘murdered’. Local radio shows were overrun with calls from the citizens demanding that something be done to commemorate the bears, and to give them the recognition they deserved. Even Doug Wilder, our Mayor at the time, was outraged that these bears were unjustly killed.

Statue to Commemorate the Maymont Bears

It took several days, combing the landfill to find those two corpses to give them a proper burial upon the insistence of the public. A local funeral home cremated the two bears and they now forever RIP in their own private little plot off the path leading to the bear pen. In another location a bronze statue was erected to honor ALL Maymont bears. The children love to play on the statue as you can see. While the statue is a lovely gesture, it would have been nice to have been donated to the park, less the tragedy that prompted its placement.

Introduction to Maymont Park

If you ever come to Richmond, Virginia, I suggest you allow yourself an extra day to explore Maymont Park. This post, as the title suggests, is merely an introduction to Richmond’s crowned jewel.

The petting barn from a distance

They have so much to offer, you may want to plan on bringing a picnic lunch and comfortable walking shoes. And by all means, bring your camera.

A few of the Maymont critters loving life

The petting barn has all kinds of sweet little animals for old and young alike to enjoy. Pictured is a mere fraction of the critters they have to love on. There are also horses, donkeys, lots of goats, peacocks, bunnies, chickens, and more.

Hmm, How am I going to get down from here?

There are bears. The Maymont bears are usually placed in captivity for misbehaving in the National park, although some of the bears they’ve displayed in past years were orphaned. In a future post, I have a sad story to tell about two bears that resided here, but for now, the focus of this writing is a general overview of the park. As time goes on, I will pick apart specific areas. I could write a book on this marvelous park. I didn’t even mention the deer,buffalo,foxes,eagles, and other prey birds on display that are wounded and would not survive in the wild. Maymont is a refuge for all kinds of critters, that in turn are a delight for all to enjoy.

The Gazebo in the Japanese Garden

I love this little gazebo, although Maymont has several dotted throughout the estate. I think this is my favorite. This gazebo is a new addition, while some of the others that stand have been there for over 100 years.

The Italian Gardens

Above the Japanese Gardens, you will find the Italian Gardens. This photo does not really show the beauty that is displayed later in the season, but it does present an excellent view of the flower beds. There are also fountains among the beds. Sadly this photo does not show anymore than the corner of one of them. This is a popular wedding spot throughout the year. Although it is an expensive spot to tie the knot in, the money collected is used to support the operating costs of the park. There are other paid attractions as well. They have a handicapped accessible tram to transport people that prefer not to, or cannot, walk. Or, if you prefer, you can rent carriage rides through the park. It is free to visit with the exception of the Nature Center and tours of the Mansion. There are also donation boxes set up for those who would like to contribute to the cause on a voluntary basis.

We always walked the park, cutting through the numerous paths and shortcuts over the hills, to get from point A to B. If you have trouble sleeping at night, Maymont will wear you out. It beats any sleeping pill on the market, I assure you.

The Nature Center

The Nature Center was added maybe 10 or 15 years ago and is full of various displays, including fish tanks, and all kinds of educational setups designed to teach children about our natural environment, focusing on life on the James River. They have snakes, and frogs, and all sorts of fish in huge tanks set into the rocks. There are even a pair of otters who love to show off for their audience. If you go around the corner, the pumps that operate the filtering system are displayed as well so the children can see how they work. Set back behind the display area is a play room for the children stocked full of animal puppets, toys, and books. On occasion storytellers come to delight the children with all kinds of information about nature and wildlife. I practically raised my own children here.

A glimpse inside of the Nature Center

The Maymont Mansion

The Maymont Mansion was the home of Major(Civil War) and Mrs Dooley, a childless couple that donated their estate to the city of Richmond to share with all. Mrs. Dooley died in 1925, thus leaving our capital city one of her greatest treasures for all to enjoy.

Parital model of the park encased in glass.

I wish I had a better model to present to show the overview of Maymont, but the model was so big and with the glare on the glass, it was hard to get it all. These pictures can not begin to describe the beauty of the park anyway. You just have to visit to really enjoy the impact of this lovely gift left to us all by Major Dooley and his lovely bride, Sallie May Dooley. May they both RIP.

Todays gone by

One day, a long time ago, I read a little caption by “Ziggy” that has always stood out in my mind.  So in tribute to that statement (which is well worth sharing),  I came across  this photo, which is proof of the truth of the Statement . . . . . . . .

Enjoy today while it is here, because someday it will be a long time ago   . . . Ziggy

Looking through my photos to post in my efforts to fulfill my ‘post a day’, I came across this picture of my mother, who died in 1998, with my son, now approaching his 31st Birthday.  I have to ask myself, “Where has the time gone?” Looking back on this photo (taken in 1986),  memories of my mother (may she RIP), my children, when they were small, and all of the trips we took to Maymont Park in Richmond, Virginia, I am reminded of Ziggy’s wisdom.  We still visit the park often, but now it is my Grandchildren that scamper about playing with the animals, and spreading their wings.  As today becomes tomorrow, repeatedly, I am grateful for my old pictures that take me back to those todays, so long ago.