Permanent Maze Is Part Of Farm

By Dee Goerge, Contributing Editor
A photo of a permanent maze captured our attention at FARM SHOW recently. Corn mazes have become common rural entertainment in recent years but it's rare to find permanent mazes like the ones popular in Europe.

"It was my idea to add a shrub maze to our corn maze," says Donna Siemers. In 2004, she negotiated with her husband, Byron, for about a third of the 2 1/2-acre maze to plant 3,000 half-foot tall Privet hedge shrubs 1-ft. apart.

"Watering and keeping the weeds down to keep them from choking out the young seedlings was a lot of work," Siemers says.

The work paid off, and by 2009 the hedges had thickened nicely and were about 4 ft. tall.

"Privet shrubs are fast growing, drought resistant and have beautiful green, shiny leaves," Siemers says. "There's grass between the shrubs so it looks like an English garden."

Her husband trims the hedge in May and again in August with a gas hedge trimmer. He trims the top slightly narrower so the sun can reach the bottoms of the shrubs.

Siemers Farms sells a variety of fruits and vegetables, and has a U-pick operation. Thousands of people come to the farm during the Apple Festival held over six weekends in September and October, which features train and wagon rides, a gift shop, music and 50 food and craft vendors.

Byron cuts his corn maze just prior to the event, which is a hectic time. The cut cornstalks are bundled and sold during the festival.

The hedge maze is located between two corn mazes. Putting rails and ropes across different paths changes the maze pattern. The four-story "castle" in the middle offers a spectacular view of the Siemers farm with a mountain backdrop that includes Mount Spokane.

The Siemers have operated a maze since 1994 and have continually added games and attractions. Life-size stuffed jungle animals in cages give the corn maze its name "Safari Zoo."

Because it greens up early, Siemers would like to use the hedge maze for a springtime event -- perhaps an Easter egg hunt with a tea party in the castle.

She's trying to convince her crop-farmer husband to plant another hedge maze next to some pine trees. This time, to save labor, Siemers would like to work up the area, install irrigation, measure out the design, lay landscape cloth, slit holes for the seedlings and seed the lawn later.