Maymont’s annual ‘Garden Glow’ illuminates outdoors with lights, community activities

Paper lanterns strung between the trees, illuminating the woods around the gardens at Maymont’s Garden Glow event. Photo by Lily Doshi

Zahra Ndirangu, Contributing Writer

Colored lights brightly paint every inch of Maymont’s Glow Village as guests look on with awe. The lights change color, from blues to reds and greens, reflecting off of the foliage of the garden.

The Maymont Foundation held its annual Garden Glow event on Friday where the Carriage House Lawn was transformed into the Glow Village. Garden Glow is a self-guided walking tour where guests can experience food trucks, fire pits, walk through the lights in the Japanese Garden, a Glow Bar and Glow Shop.

“This is my first time to Maymont and this is such a beautiful way to experience the park,” event attendee Meghan Pavlovski said. “It’s so gorgeous, they did such a beautiful job setting it up.”

Maymont’s senior director of marketing, strategy and advancement, Suzy Rohler, said that she hopes that this event will bring a pocket of peace to an otherwise tumultuous year for many Richmond residents.

“This has been so critical for us this past year,” Rohler said. “People need time to have some solace and some solitude and be with themselves and nature.”

The event returns to the Japanese Garden of Maymont after being hosted in alternate locations in the park last year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic with increased precautions such as masks and limited time slots for guests. 

“Garden Glow did happen last year,” Rohler said. “Because there are so many tight spaces walking down to the Japanese Garden, we really had to limit capacity and we decided to move the event up to the Carriage House lawn and around the Maymont Mansion.”

For Rohler, this year’s event returning to the Japanese Garden is thrilling.

“It was a bit of a different experience last year,” Rohler said. “It was still really lovely and people had a great time, but we know that our hearts are with ‘Garden Glow’ being in the Japanese Garden, so we’re excited that it’s back there this year.”

VCU graduate student and recent Richmond transplant Lynanne Bopp attended the event and noted the uniqueness of the Garden Glow activities.

“It’s beautiful, I am absolutely loving it,” Bopp said. “I feel like where I lived in New York doesn’t have a ton of events like this that are also affordable, so I feel like Richmond is so special in that way.”

The Japanese Gardens at Maymont are maintained year-round by both Maymont staff and volunteers, and the event highlights their work. 

“It’s an opportunity for me to share my love and knowledge of Japanese gardens,” said Garden Glow volunteer Scott Martin. “I’m retired so it was an opportunity for me to give back to the community.”

For Martin, the serenity of the Japanese Garden has become a constant in his life, as he’s spent the last 12 years volunteering at Maymont.

“I spend all my time in the Japanese Garden,” Martin said. “I get to enjoy it before 10 o’clock when everyone shows up.”

Rohler hopes the event allows the Richmond community to embrace Maymont even more than it already has. 

“I’d like to think that Maymont is Richmond’s hidden gem,” Rohler said. “I remember bringing my daughter here, I remember attending a wedding here. It seems like throughout all of the life stages for those of us that know Maymont, it has a special place in all of our hearts.”

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