Grade 5/6 have been learning about patterns in nature in Permaculture this term. There are certain formations replicated throughout the natural world in both macro and micro scale. Examples include: the wave pattern, seen in the ocean, in sand dune formations, heartbeats, and sound waves; the branching pattern, seen in trees, root systems, river systems, cardiovascular systems, and leaf veins; and the spiral pattern, seen in swirling galaxies, planets around the sun, tornadoes, hurricanes, seeds in the sunflower, leaves around branches, sea shells, snail shells, and the cochlea in the inner ear. Spirals have the ability to speed things up or slow things down, make efficient use of space, and offer great protection and strength, which is why nature has used this pattern for all sorts of different designs.
Humans use nature’s principles to guide their own designs. This is known as biomimicry.
Examples include, the net pattern (seen in spider webs and nests), which guided the design of nets for fishing, baskets, soccer goals etc., or the lobed pattern (seen on fish scales, feathers on birds), which is used by humans as a design to tile roofs to make them waterproof and strong. Butterfly wings have been studied by scientists for their lightweight, self-cleaning and waterproof properties and those principles have been used to design lightweight, waterproof jackets for mountaineers.
There are literally millions of examples of biomimicry in human design, and grade 5/6 decided do their own version in the garden by designing and building a herb spiral. A herb spiral is a great way to grow herbs because it allows for a large number of herbs in a small space and is able to take care of individual herb needs because of the microclimates created through the use of vertical and horizontal growing space. The herbs planted at the top and on the west side are those that can tolerate lots of sun and drier conditions (lavender, thyme, sage, oregano, chamomile) and those on the east side are those that require less intense sun (basil, coriander, sorrel), and those further down the spiral are those that require more water (mints, perpetual spinach). St Jo’s was lucky enough to receive a grant from Junior Landcare to fund this exciting project.
Despite the wind and showers grade 5/6 worked with great spirit through the day to create the beautiful spiral we now have in the garden. The group was fortunate enough to also have the fantastic help of Hollie Williamson, and two lovely ladies from the Crib Point Community Garden, Nanette and Carol. A heart-felt thanks to all three of you for sparing the time and being part of this great project.