Tutorial

Building a labyrinth – 4 years later

I wrote about our process for building a labyrinth here a few weeks ago and I just returned from visiting it so I thought I would do an update.

I could barely remember where it was and after four years of neglect I was worried that the stones would have shifted so the whole thing would be unrecognizable. Not to worry! It was obscured by tall grass but it was definitely all still there with minimal shifting of stones.

Here is is 4 years ago:
spiral arm

And here is my cute son who was 1 year old at the time. Mr. Helpy!
baby in short pants

T and I started trampling the grass down and shifting stones back into place. one of the spiral arms remains a tad confused but it can be fixed later.

Here is what we ended up with:
ranchy

I would love to get sand or paving stones or something for that path way and really make the path more defined I guess I had better go camp up there more often. :)

Here we are so you can get an idea of the scale. Each spiral arm is about 14-16 feet across.
DSC05737

I highly recommend a labyrinth for backyards or play areas. They are cheap material-wise, if not labor wise, to build and can be a great community project and they require very little to no maintenance. Not only do they have great scope for the imagination for kids but adults love them too.

Building a Labyrinth

About 4 years ago I conceived a desire to build a labyrinth on the property of some friends who were having a “Leave a Trace” party. They have a bunch of acres of beautiful California chaparral up in Mendocino County and i thought a labyrinth would be a perfectly fit into the natural landscape and their use of the land for enjoyment of nature, fun, and relaxation.

I can’t remember where I experienced my first labyrinth but I love them very much. I wanted the one I made for them to be special and not the usual 7 circuit labyrinth (see here) that I usually see. Not that there is anything wrong with those at all. I just often chose a more complicated, challenging project than the status quo.

Five Auspicious CloudsAn internet search revealed a lovely pattern called the “Five Auspicious Clouds”, that’s a great name too. I had to look up the symbolism, of course and here is what I found,

“Clouds, sometimes referred to as “auspicious clouds” (xiangyun 祥云), represent the heavens and also “good luck” because the Chinese word for cloud (yun 云) is pronounced the same as yun (运) meaning “luck” or “fortune”.
The cloud is a commonly seen design and when repeated in a pattern symbolizes never-ending fortune.”

pacing

Four years ago this is what we did to build a laybrinth
We spent two days hauling rocks and gently arguing about how to lay them out. At the end of two days we had a perfectly laid out 5 Auspicious clouds labyrinth with one layer of rocks denoting the walls.

How to build a meditation labyrinth using only some beer, a golf cart and a few river rocks:

Step One: get beer and a big flat space: ahhh beer!

Okay seriously… I read around on the internets to see how other people did it but didn’t find a whole lot. So, just now, in searching for the site that was helpful I found a couple more that look good, here they are:

Labyrinth Enterprises FAQ

Labyrinthos

Labyrinth Society

We weed wacked and we raked and moved large obstacles from the area.

A rope with tape marked every 18 inches and rebar staked in the center help the rope in place as an inverted tip marking spray paint (as used in construction) was used to mark the perimeter.

The design has 5 spiral arms and so we  marked 5 lines at 72 degrees (apron. thank you math-y people!) and along each of these lines we marked each 18 inch segment with the spray paint.

measuring out grid

I had decided hat we would draw each spiral arm from the center out and that seemed to work fairly well although I believe the engineers in the group did not agree. One of the best parts of this was seeing how my friends all differently went about working on this large group project. I think we all did pretty well for a group of horrible OCD control freaks. :P

er.. now what?

The best part was that Acrobat snuck back after we all left an RE-DID much of it. Hahaa.

spiral arm

We hauled rocks from the river bed to outline the walls and we will fill in with the more eventually. If you can get free materials like that I highly recommend it. Have you ever priced rocks? They are expensive! Sand and gravel will mark the path and a friend has just offered some pretty sounding paving stones as well. Which is great because I was originally envisioning paving stones but then did the aforementioned pricing…

Evolution of an herb spiral

When we moved in and had an arborist come cut down some of the plum trees we kept all the branches. When I was making my herb spiral I dug a hole to mix in compost and such and I buried some of the plum branches in a nod to Hugelculture. We also piled up most of them along the back wall and dumped dirt on it and hove things growing on it (oh, and an embedded hillside) in a more traditional hugelculture bed.

April 2011:
herb spiral to be.

It started fairly small.
June 2011:
herb spiral

I enlarged it to include an attached bed for flowers.

October 2011:
herb spiral

February 2012:
herb spiral is getting bigger and bigger

Here’s the flower part of it in May 2012:
Spring 2012 - backyard

I had a fantastic crop of borage, chamomile and comfrey plus some nice annuals this spring. I have prepared the bed for some new things but I’m not sure what. I already sprinkled some seeds randomly and put in a few ground cherries. There is also some lovely lovely smelling lemongrass and some valerian in there plus some basic herbs like rosemary and oregano.

Here it is June 2012: