Throughout the spring and summer, an herb garden has probably been the area of a garden most consistently humming with bees and other insects. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can still grow a wide range of herbs by building a “herb spiral”. The technique was illustrated nicely on a leaflet we picked up at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth 20 years ago.


Step 1

You’ll need an area about 2m in diameter in which you can create a series of different habitats to suit a wide range of herbs.

Step 2

Mark your spiral on the ground and then build your rising spiral from stone, bricks or wooden stakes, climbing to a peak in the centre.

Step 3

Fill it in with soil or compost as you go, and then you’re ready to plant. The dry, sunny top will be ideal for oil-rich herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage; the more sheltered, northern side will be better suited to fleshier-leaved plants such as mint, parsley and coriander.

Step 4

If you dig a small pond right at the bottom, you can even grow watermint or watercress and, in the moist area next to it, wild garlic. Watermint flowers are a magnet to honey bees, and carder bees collect the hairs from its stems to build their nests.

Step 5

If you’re not confident of building the spiral first, you can just pile the soil in the middle of your circle and then place your stones or slates of slabs into the soil to create your climbing spiral.

Step 6

Do make sure you’ve cleared the ground beneath of weeds or, maybe better still, place some cardboard on the ground to suppress any weeds that might be there.

Step 7

You could even make the building easier by drawing your spiral onto the cardboard.

You should end up with a productive, attractive, conversation piece that both you and your bees will visit regularly. It will also create good consistent foraging ground for the honey bees in your School Apiaries.

A huge thank you to our generous Bees in the Curriculum Sponsor National Bee Supplies (NBS) and to David Robinson, Managing Director of NBS for contributing this article to our Bees in the Curriculum resources for Schools. Photos of the Herb spirals are credited to Olds College CC-BY SA 2.0. (CC Search)