SWAN MEADOW MAZE RE-OPENED ON 29 SEPTEMBER 2018 TO MAKE IT EASIER TO MAINTAIN
Following the difficult decision to remove completely the failing hedging plants that were part of the original design and several months of hard work by Saffron Walden Initiative volunteers, the Swan Meadow Maze was re-opened in brilliant sunshine on Saturday 29th September. The divisions between the paved walkways are now defined by the contrasting colour and texture of dark-blue slate pieces and there are an increased total of 11 finger-mazes and labyrinths set into the planters which punctuate the maze walkway.
John Ready, the designer of the maze, said that “The maze received many positive comments from passing shoppers and visitors during the morning and children were soon interacting with the finger maze puzzles. The amended finishes will reduce the workload of weeding and maintenance and should maintain an attractive long-term appearance in use.”
As part of the 2016 third Saffron Walden Maze Festival the Saffron Walden Initiative constructed a permanent maze next to Swan Meadow Car Park. This is Saffron Walden's fourth permanent public maze - putting us firmly on the map as the UK's 'Maze Town'!
The design was developed by John Ready of the Saffron Walden Initiative and incorporates various complementary aspects:
- Materials: the location, near to the duck-pond, Jacob's Green and Freshwell Gardens, presents an environment of trees, shrubs and surviving water meadow. This is reflected in the use of 60cm-high woven willow fencing to contain the maze, with Pachysandra Terminalis ground cover planting around it and (disease free) Ilex Crenata hedging within (NB Since removed). Pale reconstituted Conservation paving slabs form the contrasting walkways and have a textured finish for slip-resistance.
- Gateway location: The maze is located at the pedestrian exit from the Swan Meadow long-term car-park, the arrival point for many shoppers and visitors to Saffron Walden. The maze layout therefore assumes the role of a horizontal billboard for adults, with the hedging spelling out "Saffron Walden Amazes" to announce both the town's long maze tradition as well as hint at its strong community spirit, festivals, independent shops and attractions such as Saffron Hall and Saffron Screen.
- Child-friendly design: The modest height of the maze divisions is geared towards young children, as is the level of complexity in the layout. There are two entry/exit points from the adjacent public footpath, each linked to the projecting circular feature in the north-east corner and providing a wall-through route via this point.
- Miniature finger-mazes: Within the layout, seven (NB Now increased to 11) finger-mazes set into pre-cast stone planters of the same height as the mature hedges, will provide the opportunity for further interaction with children along the twists and turns of the route. They are arranged in a historical sequence to fan outwards from the north-east corner, where a large labyrinthine head overlooks the whole installation.