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.
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|
|Oregano||Full sun||good, well drained|
|Thyme||sun||well drained, fair soil|
|Sweet bay||Full sun, frost tolerant||container, med. soil.|
|Mints||shade/part sun||moist, fertile|
|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),
Those suited to Wet soil:
- Bee balm
- Marshmallow (can become a weed)
- Self Heal
Other small plants to include in shaded areas:
- Alpine strawberries
- Swamp pennywort
- Warrigal greens.
Species which may tolerate frost include:
- Sweet bay
- Sweet Fennel
- Ginseng (prefers woodland)
- 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.