“I say we make base camp here, and start again in the morning.” (Photo: Tim Green on Flickr)
The lush, green hedge maze has long been a symbol of baroque opulence and slightly creepy mystery. And while the classic garden ornamentation has declined in popularity in the modern age, a number of downright magical examples of the hedge maze are still growing. Take a look at seven examples of twisting garden architecture where a person can still get lost in green corners, and verdant dead ends. Just don’t get lost. Remember what happened at the end of The Shining?
1. LABYRINTH PARK OF HORTA
If you can find yourself here, you are probably safe. (Photo: dusanmil89 on Atlas Obscura)
Barcelona’s oldest garden is a lovely, angular hedge maze surrounded by historic follies. Begun in the late 1700s, the maze covers over 2,000 feet of twisting corridors that lead to and around Italian-inspired terraces and balconies. Anyone who manages to wind their way to the center of the labyrinth can find a statue of Eros, the Greek God of Love. Which is unlikely a coincidence, since it’s easy to be smitten by this fantastic historic garden.
You could follow the arrows, but that’s weak. (Photo: dusanmil89 on Atlas Obscura)
2. PEACE MAZE OF NORTHERN IRELAND
That guy won’t look so happy when he’s been lost in there for three days. (Photo: bishib70 on Flickr)
This shaggy Irish labyrinth is not only the second largest permanent hedge maze in the world, but it is also an ever growing monument to peace in Northern Ireland. Opened in 2001, the maze is composed of over 6,000 yew trees, each planted by a Northern Ireland citizen. The maze is intentionally left a bit shorter than most as yet another aspect designed to promote communication between visitors. The center of the maze holds a Peace Bell that stands for more peace. Just don’t starve just trying to find it.
Yeah, man. We see you. (Photo: bishib70 on Flickr)
3. GLENDURGAN GARDEN MAZE
Just because you can see over the top doesn’t mean you can’t get lost. (Photo: Tim Green on Flickr)
Planted over 170 years ago, this curving, and twisting puzzle continues to confound visitors to this day. The Glendurgan maze was designed to look like a messily coiled serpent, and it shows. The closest thing the maze has to a center is a gazebo that pokes out above the foliage, but the design of the labyrinth is such that even this feels like simply a half-way point. The original designer made the maze intentionally difficult by not designing it in the mostly symmetrical fashion that most hedge mazes are fashioned in.
So close to the edge and yet so far away. (Photo: Jim Champion on Flickr)
4. HAMPTON COURT MAZE
East Molesey, England
Spoiler alert. (Photo: Yakov Perelman on Wikipedia)
While it is not the largest or most difficult maze on this list, the Hampton Court Maze clocks in as one of the oldest having been confusing challengers for over 300 years. The oldest remaining hedge maze in the United Kingdom, the Hampton Maze was planted in the late 1600s for King William III. It is what is known as a “multicursal” maze (technically all “mazes” are multicursal, and all “labyrinths” are unicursal, but the two phrases tend to be interchangeable in modern speech), which means that it has multiple possible paths to choose from. It is this plethora of choice that have been entertaining people for centuries.
That is one ominous corner. (Photo: William Marnoch on Flickr)
5. ASHCOMBE MAZE
The center of the maze is worth it. (Photo: Heather Aitken on Flickr)
Australia’s oldest traditional hedge maze actually only dates back to the 1970s. Built out of over 1,000 separate plants, the hedges have grown together so seamlessly, that they look like one bulbous, seamless, maze plant. In fact the the maze is trimmed and kept up without the use of physical guide lines giving the whole thing a much more organic feel. A fountain is located in center of the maze, but the more popular objects for guests to seek out are the little named gnomes hidden throughout the maze during an event called the Great Gnome Hunt. If you are going to create something this magical, might as well lean into it.
Take the left path. Truuuuust us… (Photo: Heather Aitken on Flickr)
6. VANDUSEN GARDEN’S ELIZABETHAN HEDGE MAZE
That poor tree can’t find its way out from the middle of the maze! (Photo: Stan Shebs on Wikipedia)
This Canadian garden maze is not only made of trees, but offers a bigger tree in its center as a reward. Its just trees all the way down. Supposedly one of only six traditional hedge mazes in all of North America, this Vancouver gem is made of over 3,000 cedar trees in a deliberate recreation of an Elizabethan maze. The maze is open every day of the year excepting Christmas, so really anytime you need a North American maze fix, this is a safe bet.
Lookin a little shaggy. (Photo: Ruth Hartnup on Flickr)
7. LONGLEAT HEDGE MAZE
This maze is a total show-off. (Photo: John Candy on Flickr)
This is it. The longest (but not largest) hedge maze in the world. Composed of 16,000 yew trees that define almost two miles of pathways, the Longleat maze is the king of modern hedge mazes. The gorgeous maze features six-raised bridges scattered throughout, and a tall central tower so that visitors can look out and see just how lost they have become. If this grand puzzle is not enough to sate your desire, the grounds around the maze have been expanded to include smaller garden mazes such as the “Sun Maze” and the “Love Labyrinth.”
None of these people ever came out of the maze. Maybe. (Photo: Fribbleblib on Flickr)