Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hort Art: Mazes and Labyrinths

I have always been fascinated by hedges maybe because it was a part of my everyday life growing up.  In a little town in the Philippines where I came from, hibiscus were used as fence-plants.  They are planted closely so that they would form a hedge along the roads. 

Then I went to Britain where I saw a completely different application of the hedge.  Hedges are designed geometrically to form mazes and labyrinths.  Although mazes are rooted on myths of long time ago, they maintain a classic appeal to people of all ages.   Today,  they have become part of gardens in many countries of the world.  They are designed for entertainment, recreation, as object of art, object of magic and meditation.  Mazes in the gardens are like living puzzles.   Unlike the labyrinths, mazes have dead end and therefore you can get lost in it...which probably provides more challenge and attraction to the adventurous ones.  Here are three examples of mazes, the ones that I've seen, in Britain.  Notice that the plants used are different. 

The Murray Star Maze at Scone Palace
The Murray Star Maze, was designed by the world renowned Maze designer Adrian Fisher, is Perthshire's only maze. Designed in the shape of the five pointed star that's featured in the Murray family crest. The maze comprises 2000 beech trees, half copper and half green, planted in a way to create a unique tartan effect.  I did not have a good position to take a picture that would show the overall effect of the design.

Jubilee Maze
The Jubilee Maze a.k.a. "The Amaging Hedge Puzzle" is about twenty years old.  It was designed by Lindsay and Edward Heyes.  Edward Heyes does the trimming himself and according to his records it takes him 10 weeks per year to trim the hedges.   The maze is made of 1,039 Port Orford Cedar bushes.   

Maze Garden at Hampton Court
The maze garden at Hampton Court in Herefordshire is made of a thousand yews with a gothic tower at its centre.  In this picture the plants were in the process of being trimmed. 

If you have a land to spare and a dream to have tourists visiting your garden, then plan on adding a maze to your garden.  This will surely amaze your neighbors.  Visit your local professional nurseries not only to see what's available and adapted to your area but also to see if you like the plant.   After you have selected your type of plant then you can browse the internet for a more reasonable price. 

Hedges are live garden structures.  Take time to care and train them.

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