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What is a Maze Garden?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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The maze garden—consisting of mazes formed by plants—exists in both historic and literary tradition. In historic tradition, there are several types of maze garden, also known hedge mazes. Maze gardens differ as to the type of puzzle they present. The maze garden also differs from some other types of mazes in that it is usually made of hedge, often boxwood, that is higher than a person’s head, so that once inside, they cannot see over the top of the walls.

A maze garden could be a branching maze or an island maze. A branching maze has a single path that leads to the goal, which is often the center. All the other paths are dead ends, and choosing one means you have to go back the way you came. An island maze, on the other hand, is a maze with choices and multiple ways to reach the center. The different types of maze are solved by different techniques.

Some people consider corn or maize mazes to be a type of maze garden. It would also depend on whether you were focused on historical use or other cultural features of mazes. Corn mazes may be set up as family attractions. Children often enjoy mazes, perhaps partly because they can have the sensation of going on an adventure and getting lost, while in a safe, contained environment.

The maze garden has had an important role in landscaping history. They were quite important in the gardens created in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Of these, the hedge maze at Hampton Court palace is the outstanding example. You can also find English maze gardens at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Chatsworth House, the Crystal Palace, Longleat, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol, Paulton’s Park, and Saffron Walden. Hedge mazes can also be found in other countries, including Austria, Germany, Spain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, New York, and Ontario, Canada.

The maze garden has also figured in the arts, in books, movies, and music. The Queen of Hearts has a maze garden in the Disney film of Alice in Wonderland (1951) —though not in the original book—and it is referenced in the music video for Gwen Stefani’s “What You Waiting For?” (2004). Also, the garden maze that forms the last challenge of the Tri-Wizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (book—2000; movie—2005) has created a striking impression of the garden maze for many people.

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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for HomeQuestionsAnswered, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By mobilian33 — On May 13, 2014

I don't care for boxwood scrubs, and I don't have enough room for a large maze anyway. However, I have created mazes along foot paths. This can be done with almost any plant, just be sure to consider how much the plants will grow as they mature.

You may not be able to play maze games, but you can have a lot of fun designing the mazes, and choosing which flowers and plants to use.

By Sporkasia — On May 12, 2014

@Animandel - I have been considering creating a maze in my garden, and I have read that to recreate one of the traditional boxwood mazes like were so popular throughout Europe at one time you should be prepared to make a space of at least 100 square feet available.

This amount of space will allow you to create interesting patterns and designs for your kids to enjoy. I have also seen much smaller mazes, but the smaller they are the less likely they are to keep children entertained for a very long time.

By Animandel — On May 11, 2014

The kids and I enjoy visiting the corn mazes during the fall and playing the various maze games. You could say the trips to the corn fields are a part of my family tradition. My parents took me when I was young.

I have seen the large mazes in the yards of large homes and estates that have plenty of land, but I have heard that mazes can work in the average size yard or even smaller yards. Has anyone tried creating a fun maze for children in a smaller yard?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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