A Puzzly Touch of Spring!

[Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura.]

It snowed over the weekend here on the East Coast, and after a disappointing prediction of six more weeks of winter from some of the more famous groundhogs around the world, you may find yourself longing for spring and all the marvelous greenery it promises.

In that spirit, I thought I would dedicate this February day to some mind-bogglingly lovely mazes that combine nature’s beauty with the ingenuity of humans.

[Image courtesy of Mental Floss.]

To start, feast your eyes upon the lavender labyrinth at Cherry Point Farm and Market in Shelby, Michigan, one of the oldest operating farms in Michigan.

The owner began designing the labyrinth in 2001, and it has since grown large enough to be seen on Google Earth! Finding your way to the center of the labyrinth should take about an hour, and attendance is free!

Be sure to visit in mid-July, when the French lavender is in full bloom, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery not far from Lake Michigan.

[Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura.]

Of course, if you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge when it comes to your homegrown mazes, the Longleat Hedge Maze in Wiltshire, England will pique your interest.

It’s the longest hedge maze in the world — but not the largest — and consists of more than a mile and a half of meandering paths, including dead ends.

[Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura.]

With six raised bridges and a tower from which to survey the entire maze, it’s one of the most striking labyrinths I’ve ever seen.

It’s actually one of several mazes on the property — others include the Lunar Labyrinth and the Sun Maze — but it’s by far the largest on the property. Although it only dates back to 1975 (while some mazes in England date back centuries), it’s truly a sight to behold.

[Image courtesy of Atlas Obscura.]

To close out our look at labyrinths around the world, we venture into the southern hemisphere to explore the Enchanted Maze Garden in Arthurs Seat, Australia.

Although it is the year-round home of “a traditional hedge maze with a Japanese Garden at its center, an ancient turf labyrinth, and a circular roomed maze for children,” it’s the constantly evolving Maize Maze that puts Arthurs Seat in the record books every year.

Each year, a new maze is designed, and with GPS assistance, over 100,000 stalks of corn are planted to create the Maize Maze. Sprawling across two and a half acres, the Maize Maze is open from mid-February through late April.

Hopefully these glimpses into the amazing depth and breadth of hedge and corn mazes around the world has you looking forward to springtime puzzling outdoors! Or, at the very least, not feeling so dreary about winter.

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Can you solve BuzzFeed’s 14 Trickiest Crossword Clues?

Last week, a fellow puzzler passed along this link, which had an intriguing premise. The folks at BuzzFeed asked prominent crossword constructors to contribute their favorite tricky or misleading crossword clues, challenging the audience to puzzle out as many of them as possible.

The constructors involved are a who’s who of top puzzlers, including Ben Tausig, Peter Gordon, Elizabeth C. Gorski, Brendan Emmett Quigley, Matt Gaffney, and several of the puzzlers involved in the Indie 500 tournament: Erik AgardNeville Fogarty, Andy Kravis, and Evan Birnholz.

There are 14 tricky clues, each with either some crafty wordplay or some delightfully wicked humor attached.

Now, fair warning, some of these are a bit risque (one drops the f-bomb), but they will all put your puzzly skills to the test.

[I wonder how Nancy Drew would do…]

My personal favorites were “Journey accompanier, often [9 letters]” and “Michigan county I promise never to use in a crossword again [6 letters],” both of which involve a level of honesty and pop culture awareness that transcends standard crossing cluing.

I managed to riddle out 10 of the 14 clues. Some of them were vague enough to allow for multiple answers — you don’t have a grid or crossing entries to help you limit options, after all — so I gave myself credit if the correct answer was one of several that came to mind.

How did you do on this crafty BuzzFeed challenge, PuzzleNationers? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!