Garden Mazes and Labyrinths: What’s the Difference?

Garden Mazes and Labyrinths: What’s the Difference?

Do you remember going to garden mazes when you were young and running around faster than your brothers and sisters to find the way out?

The green, grassy, manicured, garden hedges were huge to a youngster and seemed like they would take an eternity to master. Fun times!

What we didn’t know when we were young, but learnt recently, was that most of those garden mazes (or “turf mazes”) were actually not mazes – they were labyrinths.

What’s the difference?

The terms “maze” and “labyrinth” are often used interchangeably, but there is, in fact, one key difference between them.

 

Garden Mazes

 

A maze, by definition, is “an entertaining puzzle with many dead ends”, as illustrated in this basic diagram:

Design of turf mazes (Image credit: Labyrinthos.net)

Garden mazes (Image credit: Labyrinthos.net)

 

Here is a real-life example, from “The Old Maze” in Wing, Rutland (located in the East Midlands of England).

The turf maze at Wing in Rutland (Source: Wikipedia)

The turf maze at Wing in Rutland (Source: Wikipedia)

 

 

Interesting fact: Conwy (yes, spelt without an ‘a’) Valley Garden Maze is the world’s largest garden maze, covering two acres (although the entire grounds cover ten acres). The maze was designed and created by Giovanni Angelo Jacovelli with help from renowned Australian artist Bob Haberfield. (Forgive the weird music in the video below.)

 

 

 

Turf Labyrinths

 

A labyrinth, however, is unicursal. It consists of one path which twists and turns but leads inevitably to the centre, as per the diagram below. Wikipedia reference

Design of a turf labyrinth (Image credit: Labyrinthos.net)

Turf labyrinth (Image credit: Labyrinthos.net)

 

Usually, the turf itself forms the raised path which is marked out by shallow channels excavated between its twists and turns. However, sometimes, the groove cut in the turf is the path to be walked (sometimes marked with bricks or gravel).

Here is a real-life example of a turf labyrinth. It’s the Metropolitan State University Library’s labyrinth garden, in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, United States.

 

Metropolitan State University Library turf labyrinth garden (Image credit: ReferenceNotes.minitex.umn.edu)

Metropolitan State University Library turf labyrinth(Image credit: ReferenceNotes.minitex.umn.edu)

 

29 amazing garden mazes and labyrinths on Google Earth

 

If you love garden mazes and labyrinths, this compilation video of 29 amazing garden mazes and labyrinths, from Google Earth view, is an excellent 4 minutes viewing.

From the spider web maze to the hidden pineapple in a maze, the radio logos to the big foot, these garden mazes and labyrinths are truly impressive in size, structure and quality. I mean, these are not the work of lawn mowing amateurs. These garden mazes and labyrinths showcase the work of lawn mowing and hedging artists!

 

 

Want to make your own garden maze?

 

If you’re creatively inclined and/or you’re just tired of your boring garden, here’s a simple, how-to video on how to use your lawnmower to make a DIY garden maze at home:

 

 

Good luck. Send us some photos if you build one or visit one!

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