ShareThis Page
In a labyrinth garden, every path is the right one | TribLIVE.com
Home & Garden

In a labyrinth garden, every path is the right one

Associated Press
1130254_web1_1130254-b49f7c9075d940fd98c8b674c71e1732
AP
This undated photo shows a labyrinth in Greencastle, Pa. Follow the path in a labyrinth; you will wend your way to the center no matter which turn you choose to take.

A labyrinth garden should not be puzzling — that’s a maze. A labyrinth and a maze were once the same, but the labyrinth has recently grown to become a totally different animal.

Enter a labyrinth and every turn you make is the correct one, leading you to the center. The labyrinth might be considered a metaphor for a spiritual quest, a path that is mindfully traveled. While a maze has you scratching your head and retreating from dead ends, the labyrinth brings tranquility. No confusion, no disorientation, no tricks, no unknowns.

Rings within rings

A labyrinth does not have to be in a garden, or even outdoors, but what better place for a meditative walk with poised senses? The area need not be large, either. One of the best known labyrinths, on the floor in the cathedral at Chartres, France, is only 42 feet across, but the paths within it trace a distance of 850 feet. Twenty-five feet across is probably a minimum workable dimension for a labyrinth.

The design of a labyrinth is usually based on a series of concentric circles. For a simple design, put a barrier preventing further travel within the outer ring of concentric circles opposite the point of entry; but on either side of that barrier put entries into the next inner ring.

You can turn left or right upon entering this ring, just as you could when entering the outermost ring. This ring likewise has a barrier across from its entryway, with — again — new entryways on either side to enter the next inner ring … and so on, until the center of the labyrinth is reached.

Many other designs are possible of varying complexity and visual effect. (For other designs and more information, see labyrinth society.org). What they all have in common is that every turn leads, eventually, to a focal point.

From paper to reality

There’s room for simplicity or complexity in translating a labyrinth design from paper to the ground. For the simplest, least permanent approach, mow or rake clean a portion of your lawn and trace out the paths with flour or cornmeal. Dusting flour or cornmeal on the lawn and using a human compass in “drawing” is a fun project with a child. (One person is fixed in place, holding a string, and the other person, holding the other end of the string, can trace out circles to “draw” on the ground.)

For a slightly more permanent labyrinth, one that requires slightly more effort, let part of your lawn grow long, then mow out your labyrinth’s pathways.

For a bolder labyrinth, get out your shovel for earth moving and/or planting. The grounding effect of a labyrinth is perhaps made more so if the paths are nestled slightly down into the ground or, alternatively, if the lines separating the paths are mounded up. If the mounds have a gentle slope, the whole labyrinth might be blanketed in nothing more than lawn grass.

How about some plants?

As a gardener, all sorts of plant possibilities enter my vision at this point. How about some ornamental grass between the paths? Something light and airy like blue grama grass or muhly grass comes to mind. Both are clumping grasses, so will not take over the paths, and both tolerate dry conditions, so would do fine on mounds.

Mounds are not a must; the paths can have their edges traced with plants rather than mounded earth. Low-growing plants with year-round interest include sedums, artemesias, thymes and lavender. No reason to rule out showy, flowering plants either. Picture swaths of daisies and alliums defining paths.

Categories: Lifestyles | Home Garden
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.