The team at the National Trust’s Glendurgan garden near Falmouth in Cornwall is asking for support to raise a £50,000 ‘hedge fund’ to help pay for ongoing work which will keep its 180 year old maze healthy and open to visitors.
The maze is a memorable and deeply significant feature of the garden. Former owners Alfred and Sarah Fox, together with their gardeners, took inspiration for the design of the maze from a larger version in the Sydney Gardens in Bath, which unfortunately no longer exists.
The Glendurgan team do however have a copy of its original plan. Many of the cherry laurel hedges are likely to contain the plants originally established by the Foxes when they created the maze for their twelve children back in the 1830s.
The top priority is to improve the condition of the hedges by cutting out dead-wood and promoting new growth from the cherry laurel plants. Additional work includes wear-and-tear repairs to paths and steps caused by the many feet that run up and down them.
If successful the team at Glendurgan plan to use the £50,000 ‘hedge fund’ to pay for further in-depth work to the hedges as well as the ongoing maintenance for the next 30 years.
Jon O’Donoghue, Glendurgan Manager, said: “Shrove Tuesday is an excellent day to launch our appeal. It’s great fun flipping pancakes in such and quirky and special place and a lovely way to start our fundraising.
“At least twice in living memory the maze has had to be closed to visitors for restoration so we’re desperately keen to avoid that by acting now. We’re aiming to cover the costs of looking after the maze for 30 years – beyond that, we’ll need to review what sort of care our much-loved puzzle needs.”
10 a-mazing facts:
- The maze was planted in 1833 by Quakers Alfred and Sarah Fox for the entertainment of their twelve children.
- It is planted on a slope in the middle of Glendurgan valley. This gives spectators on the other side of the valley a perfect vantage point to watch fellow visitors puzzle their way in and out.
- The hedges are made up of the vigorous cherry laurel, Prunus laurocerasus. This responds well to pruning but compaction means it needs a bit of tender loving care to keep hedges fresh.
- It’s ¾ mile to the middle of the maze, and there are many dead-ends.
- Alfred Fox told his grandchildren to fine anyone one shilling who cheated by cutting through the hedges.
- By 1991 the maze had weeds growing amongst it and the hedges were mis-shaped with many holes in them. It was closed for three years and completely cut down to the ground to re-grow with new path surfaces laid down.
- The gardeners cut the hedges at least twice a year – depending on how wet, dry, hot or cold it’s been. The first cut is usually in late spring.
- It takes as little as three hours for four people to cut the maze – but it takes up to a day to clear up all the trimmings.
- Battery-powered electric hedge-trimmers are used to cut the hedges.
- Up to 80,000 visitors a year attempt to find the middle of the maze.
Donations can be made on a visit to Glendurgan or online