Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Little Worlds Under Glass

Fairy resting in the baby's tears.

Last week at our garden center, I had a terrarium class. Yes, I said terrarium. If you haven't noticed that they are all the rage again, you've been living under a rock! They are in all the garden magazines, as well as others.
What is a terrarium? Webster defines it as "a usually transparent enclosure for keeping or raising plants indoors." Any clear container will work as long as the opening is large enough to fit soil and plants through and deep enough to hold soil for the plant's roots.  You can use a bottle that held Grandma's perfume or a Ball jar she canned with. A brandy snifter, a fish tank, a cookie jar; if its clear glass, it will work. 
Nathaniel Ward wasn't trying to grow a plant in a jar in the 1830's, but that's what happened. He put a moth pupa in a jar and forgot about it. Six months later he looked in the jar, and found a fern. What a discovery! And, the rest is history. 

A couple of books I recommend to help you with your small world making, is The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin and Tiny World Terrariums by Michelle Inciarrano and Katy Maslow, the creators of Twig Terrariums in New York. 
Tovah Martin worked for many years at Logee's Greenhouses and is a celebrated author and lecturer. Her book about terrariums is top notch. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a garden center in SE Michigan and participating in her terrarium workshop. She is a big proponent of adding things that are special to you from nature. A shell, things you've gathered on a walk or vacation, rocks, etc. The picture below is the terrarium I made that day. I used some birch branches, sweet gum seed pods, and birch bark, as well.  
I love this quote from Tovah's book. "For as long as I can remember, my life has been tinged with green. Even when I can't escape outside, due to work or the weather, plants and nature are omnipresent. From the moment I first wake up in the morning and find my way past the menagerie of houseplants on the way to the kitchen until the late evening hours when I sit reading, propped up on a mound of pillow beside the fern by my bed, green is my constant companion." 

The terrarium I made with Tovah.

Tovah demonstrating terrarium construction.

Below are some of the other terrariums my fellow participants made that day.

When I taught my class, I had available, true miniature plants. It seems the problem with most terrariums, is the plants outgrow their container. This usually occurs because normal size houseplants are used. They start off small, but quickly outgrow their confines. We used miniature creeping ficus, mini begonias, espicia, ferns, and selaginella. 

Miniature houseplants in a terrarium.

A young man made this terrarium.

Another customer made this adorable scene.

A customer's beautiful terrarium.

Michelle and Katy wrote the book called Tiny World Terrariums. They are the co-creators of  Twig Terrariums in Brooklyn, New York. "For city folks like us with nary a fire escape, terrariums are a way to bring a "plot of land" into the home. But no matter where you live, terrariums are therapeutic to create and peaceful to observe." They make wonderful small scenes in their terrariums, mostly using different kinds of moss and small figurines. These are the terrariums I modeled my own terrariums after. I went out in my yard, gathered some moss, and went to work. I found the fairy, deer, and bee keeper at the hobby shop. You can find figurines at the hobby shop, antique store, flea market and garage sales. Fairy gardening is so "in" right now as well, there are fairy accessories everywhere you turn. Little birds, gnomes, toadstools, and other small items are all perfect for your tiny world under glass. Your imagination is your only limiting factor. Try making one today, and see if your little world isn't an everyday inspiration. 

Bee keeper with his hives.

Bee keeper.


Haworthia in a terrarium in an urgent care in Chicago.
When I was visiting my niece last year, in Chicago, we went to an urgent care and the terrarium above was in the waiting room. The hanging terrarium (what a great idea! let's get our macrame-making skill polished up) was in a florist window in Wicker Park. Love it!

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