The Bountiful Herb Spiral


        From the horns of a ram to the shells littered along the sandy beach shores, spiral patterns can be found throughout nature. It makes sense to welcome the beauty of this natural shape into our own homes, and the herb spiral is the perfect way to do so. In today’s society herbs are part of our everyday lives. Herbs add striking flavours to our meals and play a beneficial role in our health. The herb spiral offers the potential to grow more than a dozen plants while minimizing the space used when planting in rows. For example a five foot diameter herb spiral coils up around thirty linear feet into a circle. It turns out beauty isn’t the only perk this method has to offer.

        Accompanying the efficient use of land, the spiral is built on a mound of soil so that the herbs grow on a slope where they can be planted to face the direction most convenient to their growth. The south facing slope is the hottest side, the sunny side. Herbs that enjoy sun and heat, such as oregano, rosemary and thyme, are best placed here especially at the top where the soil is most dry. Where as herbs similar to chives and parsley prefer a cooler climate, the north side of the spiral offers the perfect micro-climate for them. The east side will protect sun sensitive herbs such as coriander from the extremes of the afternoon sun as well as providing them with the soothing morning sun.

Drawing of Herb Spiral taken from Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway


       The herb spiral is formed from a circular mound of earth (the one we built at the children’s garden measures about five feet across and three feet in height). An option for saving topsoil is to begin by use rocks or subsoil as a base, and continue on top of that. To create the spiral design, use rocks that range from the size of a football to the size of your fist and place them on the mound of earth. Begin by placing the largest rocks at the bottom and work your way so that the smaller rocks are at the top of the spiral. Leave about a foot of soil between each level of the herb spiral. Finally, the herbs can be planted. You can use any other plants, such as flowers or strawberries, along with the herbs of your choice



In the beginning of July we created a herb spiral with a layer of rocky dirt as our base. Then proceeded to alternate between layers of soil and layers of sprinkled straw. We heaped the dirt earth around to maintain the circle shape. The last few layers composed of well aged compost. We surrounded the pile with slabs of straw to keep the weeds from growing up and maintain moisture. Next, we walked around the garden scavenging for rocks. The spiral had already begun with some volunteer oregano, so we continued off from there, developing the bottom of the spiral with the large rocks, and moving up. Grouping some smaller rocks together, we proceeded to the top of the spiral. We took some herbs out to the garden and working together, the kids planted them on the spiral, even incorporating a sweet potato on the top. The herbs have flourished and, not only look, but taste sensational in the garden tea’s we put together each week.


        The herb spiral is a creative twist to the classic garden, opening a person’s mind to the numerous selections available in nature. The spiral provokes a positive reaction between the herbs as well as humans, the synergistic effect; The benefits between a partnership is greater then either partner alone. The shape of the designs offers the herbs multiple micro-environments to thrive in and the herbs add life into the spiral’s design. Working together, the herb spiral results in a masterpiece of nature.