I love corn mazes. Well, I actually hate them because I ALWAYS get horribly, terribly lost and my children have to rescue me. So it’s a love/hate thing for me. They do fascinate me though and year after year, I ponder the same questions about how they are conceived, grown and created. While strolling around Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farm recently, seeing the tall stalks just waiting to be meandered, I decided I was just going to ask someone and get the answers once and for all. They graciously put me in touch with someone in-the-know, Larry Vickerman, Director, Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, and here are the answers, at long last. I figure you’ve probably been wondering too.
InGoodTasteDenver: Who comes up with the design of the maze each year and how?
Larry Vickerman: Staff generally starts to develop ideas about the design in January and February. We try to choose something that is significant for Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG) for that particular year. This year it is the tree of life to represent sustainability, one of the four core values of DBG. We work with a company in Utah to fully develop the deign which is done by April generally.
IGTD: Is there a specific kind of corn grown for mazes?
LV: We generally use a silage type corn that is selected for exceptional height and large tough stalks. The more durable the better when you have 60,000 people wandering through the field.
IGTD: Does the plant produce corn and if so, what do you do with it?
LV: The corn does produce cobs that are harvested in late November/December for animal feed. We have a volunteer group that harvests and utilizes the corn.
IGTD: Chicken-and-egg question – Is a massive field of corn planted and then the design is cut in? Or is the design laid out and the corn is planted around the design?
LV: Trade secret! This is what I can tell you. The field is planted in a solid matrix in mid-May. We plant rows one way then go back across and plant the other way for a really solid field. The design is cut in when the corn is about 8-10 inches tall.
Thank you, Larry! It’s going to make it all the more fun to go to the Corn Maze this year, now that I have the answers.
The Corn Maze at Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farm opens September 15 and runs through October 29. In addition to the 7-acre maze itself to enjoy, there’s a mini-maze for kids, an After Dark Corn Maze, Dead Zone Scream Park, Pumpkin Festival, hayrides and attractions and great food and drink. While you’re there, be sure to go explore the Chatfield Farms property. It’s so calming and interesting, historic and just beautiful.