Famous Hedge Mazes

23 April 2014

Having evolved from the knot gardens of Renaissance Europe, hedge mazes have long since fascinated garden lovers and enthusiasts alike. A hedge maze is an outdoor, garden maze made from vertical hedges, acting as walls. Being hedge enthusiasts ourselves, Best4hedging believe using living, breathing plants is far more rewarding than a stone made maze. The majority of famous hedge mazes use Hornbeam hedging (Carpinus Betulus) and/or Yew hedging (Taxus Baccata), both of these species make fine hedges and are amongst the most popular garden hedging choices. There are many famous hedge mazes across the United Kingdom and beyond so we thought we’d take a look at 5 of the most extraordinary examples.

Castlewellan Forest Park ‘The Peace Maze’

Starting in Northern Ireland, Castlewellan Forest Park boasts the Peace Maze (constructed between 2000-2001) which was the longest permanent hedge maze up until 2007. The park’s arboretum was established in 1740 and is where the ‘Castlewellan Gold’ form of Leyland Cypress first originated. It has since been widely propagated and is a very popular hedging variety.

Hampton Court Maze

The maze at Hampton Court Palace is the oldest surviving hedge maze and the first to be erected in Great Britain. It covers a third of an acre and ½ mile of paths. Although it was originally planted with Hornbeam, it was replaced with fast growing Yew. The Yew hedge walls stand at a staggering 7ft tall and 3ft wide. Hornbeam has since been reintroduced to the centre of the maze. Hampton Court maze sees a whopping 350,000 visitors each year!

The Green Man Maze at Penpont

The Green Man maze at Penpont house in Wales was constructed to mark the Millennium and designed by artist David Eveleigh. This hedge maze is the largest image of The Green Man, the most significant Pagan symbol in the world. Made from Beech hedging (Fagus Sylvatica) and Yew, the Green Man maze also includes pools, hidden gardens, fragrant Lavender hedging (Lavandula) banks and an inner labyrinth. Many people do no know the difference between a maze and a labyrinth. The key distinction is that a maze has a choice of branching paths leading to its centre whereas a labyrinth only has one non-branching path leading to its centre.

3D Maze at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park

Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire is home to a huge 3D hedge maze, consisting of 16,000 Yew plants. Designed in 1975 by Greg Bright, this maze journey takes visitors up and over bridges so they can enjoy the full view of the maze from above and gain a sneak peak of where they need to get to! Longleat maze twists and turns over 1.48 acres of land and can take anywhere between 20 to 90 minutes to complete, all depending on your maze navigating skills!

One of Scotland’s Oldest Hedge Mazes, Traquair

Traquair maze in Innerleithen is one of the largest hedge mazes in Scotland, erected in 1981. The maze is situated at the rear of the house and was originally a parterre garden in the 18th century. Traquair hedge maze is unusual in that it does not have any dead ends and you must reach the sub centre before you can reach the end centre. Traquair is a very romantic spot and the maze has played host to a rather imaginative proposal. One gentleman popped the question in the centre of the maze and organised for fireworks to be set off and champagne delivered on a silver tray once his soon to be fiancee said yes – That could have been a really awkward walk back!

Hedge Mazes have also made appearances in TV and cinema, notably, in Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter’s The Goblet of Fire. In Alice in Wonderland, Alice attempts to escape the Queen of Hearts by running through the maze. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the Triwizard tournament comes to a dramatic conclusion with the contenders having to navigate a hedge maze and reach the centre to be crowned champion.