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SPIRAL BRICK GARDEN BEDS
INSPIRATION FROM GARDENSMART

Anne K Moore
Photographs Diane Baker & Anne K Moore

What do Cleveland, Ohio and Columbia, South Carolina have in common? The Cleveland Botanical Garden supplied the inspiration for a raised brick garden bed for the Riverbanks Botanical Garden in Columbia. The project grew out of an idea from a show that Eric Johnson hosted.

Diane Baker, Horticulturist at the Riverbanks Botanical Garden (Riverbanks Zoo & Botanical Garden), was able to use the inspiration she got from a GardenSmart television show she watched on ETV. In this show, a gardener had constructed raised spiral beds out of used brick and then filled the beds with herbs. Diane had an area that needed to be redone and a large stack of extra bricks. She checked with Andy Cabe, Director of the Riverbanks Botanical Garden. He gave the go ahead to construct similar beds near the Botanical Garden’s entrance.

From the show’s inspiration, Diane constructed three spiral beds, “I took the single spiral and added 2 more to it, large, medium, and small. The largest being 8 feet x 2 ½ feet, medium is 7 feet x 2 feet and the smallest is 6 feet x 1 ½ feet. The beds interconnect and interact in a pleasing spiral pattern.

Diane said that she needed to prepare the area where the spirals were to go by moving a bed of daylilies and leveling the ground. J.C. Sallee, another Horticulturist in the garden, helped level the ground.”

She continued, “Once the ground was leveled, we drew the design in the dirt. Crush-and-run¹ was the foundation for stability. The first layer was leveled brick-by-brick. J.C. and fellow Horticulturist Greg Goforth took their time and made sure the bottom layer was perfect before we added to the rest. When we got them to the size we wanted, then we added potting soil. By the time I was done, all of the gardeners I work with had a hand in helping in some way or another.”

“The spirals were completed in February, not the best time to find the plants I was looking for,” she said, “but I was able to find enough to plant until I could switch them out later in spring.” She moved the daylilies back into their new beds and planted Sedum ‘Mexicanum’ around the edges to reduce the public’s temptation to walk on the brick spirals.

Later, in the Spring, she planted a combination of permanent evergreen plants like thyme (Thymus citriodorus ‘Lime’) and mints (Mintha x piperita f. citrate, and Mentha suaveolens), and Carex ‘Frosted Curls,’ filling in the open spots between herbs with annuals.


She learned that even though the mint was contained in the brick bed, it flopped over and covered some of the brick design. “I will be moving the mint and replacing it with something that does not take away from the spiral design,” she said. She also plans to replace the annuals in spring and fall, which will help to keep the beds interesting in all seasons. (Read the Cleveland Botanical Garden show transcript in this E-letter: ON LOCATION in Cleveland Ohio.)

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¹Crush-and-run (Crusher Run, Crush-n-run) A mixture of stones and stone dust that compacts and binds together to create a good base for bricks, pavers, or gravel.

Posted January 10, 2014

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