Thursday, March 4, 2010

Garden Labyrinth

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This seven circuit classical hedge labyrinth with enlarged centre, was designed and constructed by
my dad, Fred Wieler in the beautiful gardens, (a labyrinth in it's self) of Hagal Farm - a holistic retreat centre and our family home. Hagal Farm is nestled on the slopes of the Maughanaclea mountains, in the picturesque Mealagh valley near Bantry, in West Cork.

The gardens at Hagal Farm spared out over about four acres, making up a number of different gardens, each with its own character. (but this is another story for another post, sometime in the future) From the car park, little blue sign can be found with the symbol of the labyrinth, pointing down a winding path through some of the wilder gardens. As you wind your way through the gardens, more of the same signs keep you on the right path, to the entrance.

The Labyrinth’s hedges are Lonicera (Lonicera nitida) and was all planted from cuttings approximately five years ago. To walk the labyrinth is about a 360 meter round trip and takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
An ancient piece of local bog Oak makes up the sculptural centre piece.
Summer Shot
Lonicera makes a great hedge, it is easily planted from cuttings and is fast growing. However there is an obvious drawback with this too, it being that, it needs regular trimming. I made the mistake of offering to cut it once, with a hedge streamer, it’s quite a lot of maintenance.
Another big job is mowing the grass, there's no short cuts so when you get to the centre and your mowing is complete, you get to push the mower all the ways around back out again. But it's worth it, and for some people it’s even a pleasure!
The Labyrinth in its second year growing.
Winter Shot

The labyrinth's creator, inspecting the hedges

Video of a swift walk through the Labyrinth

What are labyrinths

'A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
This labyrinth carving 'Hollywood Stone' found lying face down in a grassy lane near the village of Hollywood in County Wicklow, dates back to around the sixth century.
A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to "That Which Is Within." '

Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.
A labyrinth has only one path. It is universal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.

For all those who wish to see more Irish labyrinths or fancy to walk one, this one and many more around the country can be found on Labyrinths Ireland

And for those of you who are reading this from abroad, you can find labyrinths from all over the world on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.

 Below are a few other living labyrinths from around the world


  1. Dear Sunny, I am most intrigued to read about the labyrinth at your home. This is a hugely imaginative creation and what a wonderful addition to your garden. As you say, unlike a maze, it gives great opportunity for self exploration and reflection.

    As a shrub I really like using Lonicera nitida, the drawback being the high degree of maintenance, as you say, required to keep it in trim. The countryside around you looks wonderful!

  2. Yay...One of my most favorite topics! This post was incredible..I am labyrinth enthusiast..and walking them is so special and magical..I also love drawing and painting them..very meditative! What a fantastic've made my day!
    The lonicera is so beautiful..all the photos are gorgeous!
    Have a super day!

  3. Hi Sunny, What a fascnating post on the labyrinth at your family home. I am looking forward to future posts about it.
    There is a labyrinth in Trinity Square in downtown Toronto. It is made up of two different colour paving stones, rather than hedging, easier to maintain in our climate with the snow, and no hedges to cut!

  4. What a wonderful layrinth and a very intersting post. I rather like that daffodil one too. Great stuff!

    RO :o)

  5. A gardening feature not so often used, but all the same magical and interestng to see a fairly new one in this world of fast, fast, fast food and such... I love it, I would have chosen another material on the ground, lazy as I am I think maybe wood chips:-)

  6. Your labyrinth is amazing! I'm not sure I'd have the patience to plant one, and wait for it to grow. I'm also a little challenged when it comes to hedge shears. I can't imagine mowing the grass around it either. What a labor of love it must be, but it's absolutely beautiful!

  7. aloha,

    how beautiful is that, thanks for taking us on a trip to your amazing labyrinth...i feel like i have just walk through all the pathways

  8. Fascinating post on a subject that intrigues me. I never thought of the mowing part of things :-)

    Great post!

  9. Hello Sunny, I finally made it back for a proper look at your blog!
    I enjoyed learning about the labyrinth and loved the sculptural bog oak. Your earlier post on willow structures had me fascinated too!

  10. What a beautiful example of a labyrinth and to have it in your family home is so special. Lonicera is a beautiful shrub and also grows here in the Arizona desert. Thank you for sharing these beautiful views of the garden.

  11. Anytime gardeners start to think they are getting the hang of things they are sure to see a growing specialty they know nothing about. I have no experience at all with growing a labyrinth but you've sure inspired me to try! Beautiful, and I love the garden ancestry. :)

  12. It is a work of art, and your father did a wonderful job. As I was reading the story, I was thinking about the hedge trimming required though. That is a journey in itself. This is the most beautiful of settings for it as well, the entry is breathtaking. Thanks for showing us and the links to others. :-)

  13. Sunny, This is so beautiful -- and my first introduction to the labyrinth as a garden feature. I would love to be out there at first light in summer for a meditative early morning walk. It's refreshing just to think about it! -Jean

  14. Sunny, I so enjoyed walking thru the labyrinth with you! I greatly admire your efforts in maintaining this marvel. The landscapes around your home are stunning... seeing the views while walking thru the labyrinth is very uplifting... beauty all around and within! What a wonderful illuminating post! I will visit the links ... Thank you! Most inspiring! Peaceful! Beautiful photography! ;>) Carol

  15. I desire our own labyrinth now. Have to say your dad is very good.

  16. Sunny, there are gardens, and then there are GARDENS and skills I can only aspire to! I am in awe and will come for a virtual visit often. (Thanks for your welcome to Blotanical!!) -Shyrlene

  17. Thank you for taking the time to create such a beautiful and informative post, Sunny. I have only walked labyrinths with very low profiles. I imagine that the taller hedges of your family's labyrinth make for a different, perhaps more focused, experience for the walker.

  18. This is fantastic! Labyrinths are full of symbolism, but I think they are just plain fun. I can imagine the upkeep, but you are right. It is worth it! I love your blog and look forward to your posts.

  19. Fantastic post...I love walking labyrinths and we've talked about building a small walking path labyrinth to the garden~You've shown some marvelous ones...gail

  20. Very neat! I can see where it would require a lot of maintenance to keep a great form.

  21. This is wonderful. I toured via the video and enjoyed it immensely.

    I've always wanted a labyrinth. I even laid out one once. What held me back was the maintenance; imagine a jungle labyrinth. Instead I settled for wide grassy paths through a stroll garden that I imagine as labyrinth-like. It isn't the same, but it is manageable.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my Daffodils.

  22. wow, great labyrinth! we walked a really cool one in south africa last year

  23. Hi Sunny - I so enjoy your posts. It sounds like creativity runs in your family! What a talent you have. Your post make me smile!

  24. Hi. You have an interesting blog!

    And labyrinths... one of my favorite things.

  25. Having always been intrigued by labyrinths and mazes, your post was most interesting. And I must admit I wasn't aware of the difference between the two. Your fathers garden looks wonderful. I wonder if instead of shrubs you could use something like lavender?

  26. What a delightful and well-researched post! I am loving this blog and will subscribe! I have had the pleasure of strolling a labyrinth in northern California, at Old Mill Farm. It's a great experience! Here is a link to it, I tried to research it well when I was working on their web site:
    The quiet power of a labyrinth is often not fully comprehended by those who have not had the opportunity to avail themselves of one. I have dreams of doing a small-scale one at my home - as an avid golfer my husband prefers plain grass so there is debate about it! I'm imagining one made of heather, very low-growing. Thank you for the excellent post here! Bravo! Cheers, Bonnie

  27. I know of two in my immediate area. One is in a childrens's playground, and one is at the end of a long-ish hike in the Berkeley Hills. Both lovely, and very different experiences.

  28. Amazing - pun intended :)
    Years ago I was able to finally check "walk through hedge maze" off my list of things to do before I die.

  29. this post is, as usual for you, the best!!!!

  30. What a beautiful labyrinth. I have been visiting, walking, creating and caring for labyrinths for years. This one is a beautiful one to add to my dream list.. a trip to Ireland, a holistic centre AND a labyrinth. Wow, just the trip for the labyrinth pilgrim.