Modern & Extraordinary Hedge Mazes
MAZE MONTH has to end sometime (and tomorrow will indeed be the last post) but as I searched historic hedge mazes I ran across so many astounding structures of a newer creation that I had to include at least one blog about them. The following list is far from complete when it comes to the plethora of incredible and diverse hedge mazes throughout the world. These are merely my favorites, and those which hold (or have held) records within the broad “permanent hedge maze” category on Guinness.
MORE MAZE MONTH!
PINEAPPLE GARDEN MAZE
In 2008 the gigantic Pineapple Garden Maze located on the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa on Oahu, Hawaii was declared the world’s largest maze by the Guinness Book of Records. The maze debuted in 1998 and expanded in 2007, now consisting of over 14,000 tropical plants. It stretches over 3-acres and has 2.5 miles of paths. Along the twisting path are eight secret stations with clues leading to the pineapple-shaped garden heart. It takes most visitors about an hour to navigate but those with the fastest times are posted on a sign. And of course one can enjoy fresh DoleWhip, a pineapple soft-serve dessert while strolling the convoluted trail.
LONGLEAT HEDGE MAZE
The maze located in the gardens of Longleat in Wiltshire, England was opened in 1978. Constructed with more than 16,000 English yews covering 1.48-acres, Longleat Hedge Maze is a small but significant part of the 8,000-acres comprising the home of the Marquesses of Bath since 1541. The convoluted pathways with numerous dead-ends measure 1.69 miles (2.8km), making it the longest (but not the largest) hedge maze in the world.
The maze has 8-foot tall hedges punctuated by six raised bridges allotting extensive views across the gardens. The correct path ends at a central observation tower. The design is so complex it takes over an hour and a half just to walk through it.
YANCHENG DAFENG DREAM MAZE
Situated in the Jiangsu Province of China, the Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze (or “Labyrinth of Dreams”) is arguably one of the most awe-inspiring puzzles in the world. Inaugurated in 2017, the gigantic complex covers a staggering 383,160 square feet (35,596 sqm) and holds several Guinness World Records, including for the world’s largest permanent hedge maze. Shaped like a giant elk strutting through a field, the massive maze is made from more than 100,000 Juniperus chinensis bushes and is dotted with rest areas, bridges, playgrounds, and statues throughout. The path to get out is more than 5.8 miles (9.4 km) and even if knowing the way it would take two hours to complete. In addition to the Dream Maze itself, the amusement area includes smaller mazes in assorted shapes — circular, heart, star — built of unique materials including glass. A 65-foot high observation tower looks over the whole maze.
THE MASON LABYRINTH
Located in the town of Fontanellato near Parma in Italy, the Labirinto Della Masone, or Mason Labyrinth, was built by Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci as the result of a dispute with writer Jorge Luis Borges. The two were long-time friends and collaborators, so on an evening in 1977 the two were discussing labyrinths as a metaphor for the human condition when Ricci casually mentioned he wanted to build the world’s largest maze. It was, Ricci later admitted, an off-the-cuff comment, but when Borges insisted it would be impossible to beat the existing records, Ricci rose to the challenge.
Constructed of 200,000 bamboo plants in assorted varieties and shapes (chosen because bamboo is fast growing) in an unusual star-shape covering 20-acres, the design is in fact a true maze with multiple path choices and dead-ends. Ricci’s fascination with the history of labyrinths, specifically within the Italian culture and architecture, inspired the unique pattern and choice of the classic “labyrinth” rather than the modern “maze.”
The 1.8 mile (3 km) path winds its way around a central 21,500-square-foot piazza complete with a golden pyramid that houses a chapel. The buildings are a series of galleries with art and sculpture collections, a library of rare editions, restaurants, and several huge rooms for meetings and events. The chapel hosts frequent weddings and there are two lavish honeymoon suites.
The maze opened in May of 2015, and indeed was declared the Guinness World Record title holder for largest maze. Alas, that title was lost in 2018 to the Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze. It does, however, remain the planet’s biggest bamboo maze.
Located in Castlewellan Forest Park in County Down, Northern Ireland, the Peace Maze was inaugurated in 2001 to commemorate reconciliation efforts and the end of Northern Ireland’s decades of political and nationalist troubles. The hedge is comprised of 6,000 yew trees, many of which were planted by people from all over Northern Ireland during December of 2000. It covers 2.7 acres with a hedge length of over 2 miles. The hedge height of 5 feet (1.5 meters) is lower than the usual hedge maze height, but is purposefully designed to facilitate communication and interaction between visitors in different areas of the paths. The maze features stepping stones, a rickety bridge, a rock-strewn path and a peace bell at the center.
Located on the Bago Vineyard in New South Wales, Australia is a stunning vino-themed maze constructed with native Lilly Pilly hedges. The third-generation family owned farm has been making wine since 1985, the entire complex and landscaped gardens a major tourist attraction. The curving maze created by 6-foot tall vines has over 1.2 miles (2km) of pathways, some sunken to add variety, with lookout towers, bridges, and boardwalks. Considered the largest hedge maze in the country, it takes less than an hour to navigate.
I could go on further as there truly are a huge number of incredible mazes.
One has to stop somewhere, however.
Share your thoughts on these a-MAZE-ing examples,
especially if you’ve visited any of them.
Come back tomorrow for the Maze Month Finale!