An herb spiral is a permaculture technique that increases planting space within a small footprint and creates differet moisture conditions to accommodate varying needs.  

Our herb spiral was designed and re-built in 2021 by CLC student Theresa Winter as part of her horticulture coursework.


Perspective from the builder, Theresa:

 The spiral works on many levels (no pun intended) as a sustainable landscape feature in the garden.  It saves planting space by using vertical height, so an area as little area as 7’ in circumference can triple the plantings.  Stone blocks retain moisture and warmth creating several microclimates from the center and highest point of the spiral moving downward, so that plants with distinctly different light and moisture needs can be grown quite close together, conserving water.

The herb spiral of medicinal plants invites visitors to experience the therapeutic and restorative calming effect of the shape of the spiral with a sensory oriented focus on scent, color, taste, and texture.  The spiral is an invitation for a walking meditation while reaching out to touch the various leaf textures and smell the herbs and flowers.  Visitors are welcome to sit on the spiral wall and reconnect with nature with the various sights and sounds of the garden.  The spiral creates a calming environment filled with medicinal plants to ease the mind and heal the body.

Herbs included in this practicum and their various medicinal applications:

  • Cayenne pepper promotes gastric secretion, assists in digestion, and can reduce hunger.  It contains beneficial  antioxidants including Vitamins A, C, and E.  It can be sauteed fresh and added to sauces or dried and ground up.  Warning: fresh cayenne pepper should be handled with respect and care should be taken to keep cayenne away from the eyes and any mucus membranes.
  • Rosemary tea made from fresh or dried leaves can help strengthen and improve memory, reducing mental fog.  Those same benefits can be found in the scent of the essential oils in the leaves.
  • Oregano has many antioxidant properties.  When prepared as a tea, oregano can be used to treat colds and upper respiratory infections.
  • Thyme Steep 1-2 teaspoons of this sunny herb, either fresh or dried leaves and flowers can be used to calm coughs and clear bronchial mucus.
  • A small pillow filled with lavender can be placed over the forehead to ease  stress-induced headaches and to relax and calm the mind.
  • Calendula has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can heal skin tissue, so fully dried blooms can be infused in a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or almond oil, and used for daily skin care. 
  • The dried flower heads of Chamomile can be used to make a tea to reduce anxiety and produce a calming effect.
  • Self-heal is more than just a pretty flower. An antiviral compound can be made by creating a poultice of the flowers and used to treat cold sores.
  • Place a handful of fresh Holy Basil leaves and flowers into a quart bottle for a refreshing infusion which can heighten awareness and mental clarity.  It has been found useful by in alleviating symptoms of ADD and ADHD.
  • Parsley, recognized for its diuretic properties, is also rich in antioxidants and nutrients such as Vitamins A, K, and C.  Add fresh or dried leaves to almost any smoothie or sauce to add flavor and health benefits.
  • Peppermint tea made from the dried leaves can help in the treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, as it appears to calm the muscles in the walls of the stomach and intestines.