UMD Off the Beaten Path: Garden of Reflection and Remembrance

The labyrinth at the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.
The labyrinth at the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.

On a bustling campus in a busy metropolitan area, there is perhaps nothing more cherished than a moment of quiet contemplation. The Garden of Reflection and Remembrance, located just steps from McKeldin Mall in the shadow of the Memorial Chapel steeple, provides an ideal spot for members of the community to slow down their lives for a moment.

Begun with a grant from the Open Spaces Sacred Places Foundation in 2007, the Garden was designed by students from the Landscape Architecture program. Construction began in the spring of 2010, and the garden was officially opened in October of the same year.  It includes several “rooms” based around seating areas and water features, designed to encourage relaxation and reflection.

Fountain and bench located at the eastern entrance of the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.
Fountain and bench located at the eastern entrance of the Garden of Reflection and Remembrance.

The centerpiece of the garden is its labyrinth, a single path which twists and turns from its entrance towards the center point.  The labyrinth is meant to provide visitors with a chance to meditate while moving, allowing them to focus on their thoughts as they make their way along the ever-changing path to the center and then back out again. Thyme planted along the pathway provides an aroma that makes the experience even more relaxing.

Two fountains mark the eastern and western entrances to the garden.  At the easternmost fountain sits one of two comfortable wooden benches in the garden.  Under each of these benches, visitors will find a journal to record their innermost thoughts and feelings.  In an age of Twitter and its 140 characters, these journals are filled with handwritten personal stories of love and loss, as well as poems, and students’ hopes and fears for their futures.

The Garden of Reflection and Remembrance represents an invaluable addition to the University of Maryland, College Park campus.  A serene place, surrounded by the constantly changing beauty of nature, it is certainly worth stepping off the beaten path to visit.

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