Herb Spirals and mandala Plus

Herb Spirals, Mandala & ‘Hoist-ariums’

Herb Spirals or herb mandalas are a popular and successful permaculture element. A well planned herb spiral can provides a variety of positions (sun, shelter, and shade). It will also provide plants with different  levels of moisture (the top is dry and the base boggy). Most herb spirals are usually 1 meter high and contain all the plants which are often used such as : mints, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, sage, basil etc.

It is a simple but effective  design.

The center of the herb spiral should be  elevated and the ground falls as the spiral unfurls. This allows you to plant, dry soil plants like rosemary at the top and water loving plants at the bottom such as watercress and  water chestnuts.

You should be able to reach all the parts of your herb spirals or herb mandala without having to step onto it.

herb spirals under a clothes line
Our Hoist-arium

Siting Your Herbs:

Here is a table providing information for the siting or planting position of a few common herbs.

Common name Sun/Shade Soil type
Lavender Sun facing poor soil, rocks
Catmint, clary sunny Fertile loam
Bee Balm Partial shade
Yarrow Partial shade
Comfrey sun/part shade moist
Oregano Full sun good, well drained
Thyme sun well drained, fair soil
Tansy shade/morning sun good
Borage Full sun dry
Sage Full sun dry
Sweet bay Full sun, frost tolerant container, med. soil.
Mints shade/part sun moist, fertile
Cumin Full sun poor-good
Coriander Full sun shelter from wind, poor-good
Violet semi-shade competes well with grass in moist soil, shallow rooted
Rosemary sun dry, well drained soil
Garlic sun well rotted compost, moist well drained
Parsley Full sun/part shade – likes afternoon sun Fertile humus rich soil
Lemon Balm Full sun/part shade Fertile, moist

Herbs which manage well in Clay soil include:

  • Bee balm (a.k.a. Bergamot),
  • Comfrey
  • Mint
  • Wormwood

Those suited to Wet soil:

  • Angelica
  • Bee balm
  • Marshmallow (can become a weed)
  • Meadowsweet
  • Self Heal
  • Valerian
  • Watercress
  • Waterchestnut.

Other small plants to include in shaded areas:

  • Strawberries
  • Alpine strawberries
  • Violets
  • Angelica
  • Swamp pennywort
  • Warrigal greens.

Species which may tolerate frost include:

  • Sweet bay
  • Sweet Fennel
  • Chickory
  • Watercress
  • Ginseng (prefers woodland)
  • Parsley
  • Dandelion Taraxacum officinale.

Our Hoist-arium (Hills-Hoist Herb Garden) is underneath our clothes hoist. It was built with very little soil and is thriving.