Former glory for Victorian maze
Glemdurgan Gardens, Cornwall
Visitors who flock to Glendurgan Gardens, one of Cornwall’s famous subtropical gardens can now enjoy the bonus of the newly-restored Victorian maze. It was planted in 1833 by Quakers Alfred and Sarah Fox for the amusement, – but also for the edification – of their 12 children, as it carries the moral that, while there are many choices in life, there is only one righteous path.
Glemdurgan Garden, which draws 86,000 visitors a year, comprises 32 acres of unspoilt valley that slopes down to the picturesque hamlet of Durgan on the Helford River, not far from Falmouth. The garden is renowned for the lush subtropical plants, rare and mature trees, extensive orchards, wild flower meadows and panoramic views Only the maze, which was looking somewhat worse for wear after nearly two centuries, was letting down the idyllic landscape. The National Trust, who were gifted the garden by the Fox family in 1962, therefore decided to raise the £140,000 for a full restoration.
The result is a new octagonal oak summerhouse with a thatched roof and a mew flight of stone steps. The newly-laid bonded gravel paths were designed to protect the plant roots from compaction due the footfall and bespoke metal edging was engineered piece by piece to follow the maze’s many twists and turns.
One thing that. has not been renewed is the 19 century cherry laurel hedging (Prunus subg. Padus) which is reported be looking its lustrous best now thanks to the newly installed drainage and the pruning out of the old wood.
Negotiating the maze is reputed to be challenging but, being on the sloping side of the valley, it is fully visible to onlookers so instructions can be shouted across to help the confused traveller find the right path.