A labyrinth is an intricate system of passageways that has blind alleys.
The most famous reference to a labyrinth can be found in Greek Mythology. A labyrinth was designed to hold the Minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull. In history, labyrinths have been seen on coins, pottery, body art, on walls, and on floors.
During the Renaissance labyrinth gardens became popular. From the European Renaissance onward, the labyrinth or maze occurred in formal gardens, comprising intricate paths separated by high hedges.
Labyrinth gardens came to be associated with love; few of these labyrinths were hedge garden labyrinths,some were twisting mazes of tunnel arbors, others were three-dimensional with staircases leading to upper levels. These garden labyrinths provided the perfect hideaway for dalliances, idle chitchat or gossip and secret assignations.
There are two types of labyrinth garden mazes: unicursal and multicursal. Unicursal mazes do not have blind alleys and hence are easier to negotiate. A multicursal maze design has blind alleys and branches thus making finding the goal of the maze more difficult.
In gardening, a labyrinth garden or maze has an intricate network of pathways that is made using hedges. However, different plants may be used in its creation. The hedge will have to be thick enough so that a person navigating the labyrinth garden cannot see through it.
Some famous labyrinth gardens from across the world:
The world’s largest labyrinth garden was created at Reignac-sur-Indre in Touraine, France. The labyrinth garden has been created in a 10-acre plot and every summer a maze of corn or sunflowers grows that is harvested in the autumn. The labyrinth garden grows the following year in a different maze owing a special technique of sowing.
The Ashcombe Maze Labyrinth Garden in Australia is located at Shoreham, Victoria. This labyrinth garden is Australia’s oldest and most famous and measures 3 meters high and two meters wide. The labyrinth garden is also the world’s oldest rose maze with 1200 bushes and more than two hundred varieties of roses.
The Pineapple Garden maze in Wahiawa, Hawaii at the Dole plantation has over more than 3 miles of paths on three acres. The labyrinth garden has been grown using more than 10000 plants –hibiscus, croton, pineapple, heliconia and other colorful plants.
The Maze at Hampton Court sees thousands of visitors every year making it UK’s most famous labyrinth garden. The labyrinth garden occupies an area of one-third of an acre and has paths over half a mile long.