A-maze-ing mazes

The wavy hedges of Glendurgan maze in Cornwall seen from above

Exploring mazes can be a lot of fun, but have you ever wondered how much work it takes to establish and care for a maze in a country garden?

Garden design reintroduced

The maze at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire was planted in 2010 and having become well established, is now thriving. Standing at 2 metres high and running for over 500 metres, the yew maze is an impressive site.

Head Gardener at Cliveden Andrew Mudge says ‘traditionally we would cut yew hedges in August and September, but we love how popular the maze is with our family visitors so my team tends to cut it earlier in the year.’

Some mazes at our places have been reintroduced as part of our dedication to traditional planting schemes. Like Cliveden, the maze at Belton House was originally planted in 1890, but became overgrown after the Second World War and was removed. Today, you and your family can enjoy the maze that was replanted in 2000.

Cliveden Maze
A historic drawing of the maze at Cliveden in Buckinghamahire

Caring for a maze

Trimming the maze is a big job. It takes four gardeners 210 hours in total, including tea breaks, to keep the hedging meticulously manicured. A group of helpful volunteers then spend three days clearing up all the clippings, only the best volunteer jobs at Cliveden.

Yew isn’t the only evergreen which works well for a maze. The living puzzle at Glendurgan Garden in Cornwall is planted with cherry laurel.

The laurel is ideal for this maze as it is vigorous and tough enough to withstand regular trimming and footsteps around the roots. For additional texture palm trees indicate the four corners of the maze whilst a thatched summerhouse marks the sought after middle.

Visitors in the laurel maze at Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall
Visitors in the laurel maze at Glendurgan Garden

When is a maze not a maze?

In contrast to our tallest mazes, we also have very short mazes. The maze at Powise castle is as tall as a length of grass. We're not kidding.

The maze at Powis shows that height doesn't matter
The maze at Powis Castle National Trust

Technically speaking the Powis maze is a labyrinth. A labyrinth is very similar to maze but rather than having many dead ends, all routes lead to the centre, albeit often by the most complex and winding of routes. To reach the centre of this labyrinth at Powis Castle, visitors will have to follow 854m of path.

General manager of Powis, Emma Thompson said 'There have been many different designs cut into the Great Lawn over the years from Welsh dragons to ‘Croeso. It’s sure to give families hours of entertainment.'

'As part of the our  50 things to do before you’re 11 and ¾ campaign, we’re encouraging children to do it barefooted and tick off No.24 from their lists ‘Go on a walk barefoot’ the labyrinth is the perfect spot for that.'

Which maze will you explore this summer? 

Children playing in the garden at Basildon Park, Berkshire

Basildon Park, Berkshire 

At Basildon Park, in Berkshire, there is a mini maze amongst the laurel bushes in the garden. Can you find your way into the centre and back out again?

Children in the maze at Belton House, Lincolnshire

Belton House, Lincolnshire 

The maze at Belton House, in Lincolnshire, is situated in the pleasure grounds. Originally, it was planted in 1890 but it became overgrown after the Second World War and was removed. We replanted it in 2000.

Botallack Mine near St Just, Cornwall

Botallack Mine, Cornwall 

Wander through the old arsenic labyrinth at Botallack Mine, which is just 1 mile away from Levant Mine, in Cornwall.

The maze at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire 

Finding your way to the centre of the maze at Cliveden, in Buckinghamshire, is quite the challenge. This maze is made from over 1,000 two-metre-high yew trees and 500 metres of path.

Visitors exploring the tree hut at the centre of Nelly's Labyrinth, Cragside, Northumberland

Cragside, Northumberland 

Explore Nelly's labyrinth at Cragside, in Northumberland, which is cut into a rhododendron forest. Named after a reputed local witch, the labyrinth is a great place to play hide-and-seek, play on the turtle drum, sit in the storyteller’s chair and discover Nelly’s den in the centre.

Visitors in the laurel maze at Glendurgan Garden

Glendurgan Garden, Cornwall 

The cherry laurel hedges of the maze at Glendurgan Garden, in Cornwall, have seen over 175 years of family fun.

The pavement maze at Greys Court, Oxfordshire

Greys Court, Oxfordshire 

Burn off some energy running around the pavement maze at Greys Court, in Oxfordshire.

View of Lyveden New Bield, Northamptonshire with rosehips in the foreground

Lyveden New Bield, Northamptonshire 

Old aerial Luftwaffe photos show that Lyveden New Bield, in Northamptonshire, once had a labyrinth. The labyrinth no longer exists, but the pattern has been cut into the grass so you can still explore the puzzle. Visit during summer when wildflowers grow up around the path, making it a great place for hide and seek or a barefoot walk.

The maze at Powis Castle National Trust

Powis Castle, Powys 

The garden at Powis is just waiting to be explored. The garden team change the design of the labyrinth every year, this summer they have been inspired by their First World War theme and activities.

Children playing outside at Speke Hall, Garden and Estate, Merseyside

Speke Hall, Merseyside 

The maze at Speke Hall, in Merseyside, contains 12 gates, five bridges, four finger mazes, three weather vanes and a tower.