Rising from a corner of Cleveland’s Midtown Learning Farm like the coiled shell of a gargantuan snail is a swirl of rocks and green-leaved herbs. An “herb spiral” is a carefully planted microcosm designed to be a self-sustaining ecosystem. An outgrowth of permaculture, which promotes living and gardening in harmony with nature, herb spirals are becoming popular not only for their sound ecological design, but also for the visual interest they add to gardenscapes.
How Herb Spirals Work
Designed to save water and attract pollinators, garden spirals create a variety of growing conditions in a compact area. They accomplish this by rising in height as they spiral toward the center, giving the finished structure a conical shape. Sun-loving plants should be placed at the top of the spiral, while the garden’s rocky walls can provide shade for lower-growing shade-seeking plants. Similarly, because the spiral channels water downward, plants that require well-drained soil thrive at the top of the spiral, while plants at the bottom of the spiral enjoy moister growing conditions.
Step by Step
To create an herb spiral, use stone slabs or large rocks to build a stone wall by dry-stacking stones into a loose spiral that rises toward the center. Fill the interior of the spiral with soil and pack additional soil around the outer edge. Plant herbs that require sun and good drainage – like oregano, thyme, lavender, and rosemary – near the top. In the middle, plant herbs that require moister soil conditions, such as basil, sage (Gentian), tarragon and cilantro. And then at the bottom of the spiral, plant thirsty herbs like mint, parsley and chives (Allium).To learn more about how herbs can make attractive and edible landscape plants, click here.