Very often in our lives we deal with times of chaos, stress, grief and sadness. During these times we look for a place that offers silence, solitude, diversion and education.
Many people find a place in nature to help them come to terms with whatever they are confronting such as a walk in the woods, playing with children in the park, sending or receiving flowers, or just going for a long ride in the country.
Often times just placing flowers in our homes, a new plant for the office or bringing a piece of nature into our living spaces helps to make our home a sanctuary from the trials of our daily lives.
Another way to recreate a bit of nature in your home is to make a Terrarium.
A Wardian case, more commonly known as a Terrarium, uses a transparent container (with or without a cover) in which plants are grown.
A Little History Lesson
Dr. Nathaniel Ward, an English surgeon from London, England, accidentally discovered Glass gardening. In the summer of 1829 he discovered a fern and some grass growing out of moist soil in a sealed bottle in which he had buried the cocoon of a sphinx moth. He watched the growth for four years and then the plants died because the lid rusted which allowed the seal of the lid to break. In 1832 Dr. Ward filled two cases with ferns and grasses and sent them to Sydney, Australia. After they arrived safely (a mere eight months later), Australians refilled the cases and sent them back. As a result, by the 1850’s Wardian cases were widely used to transport plants from all over the world because they provided the perfect microcosm for new plants to travel and be shared.
Did you know?
Basically what a terrarium does is create a miniature water cycle similar to the larger world. So, if you have tried houseplants in the past and have not been successful with them, a terrarium is one answer to bringing nature inside for you.
List of items needed for your project:
- A glass or plastic container such as a cider jug, 2 liter plastic bottle (with the bottom cut off), cookie jar, aquarium, or mason jar
- A funnel with a long nozzle or a piece of rolled cardboard
- Aquarium charcoal
- Plants with similar culture needs (sun, water, fertilizer)
- A spray bottle of distilled water
Step by step instructions:
- Using the funnel, pour 1 – 2 in. of pebbles into the bottom of the container. Shake until the pebbles are even.
- Add ¼ to ½ in. of charcoal as evenly as possible to prevent any decay.
- Add 3 – 4 in. soil and spread evenly.
- Using tongs or chopsticks, dig holes in the soil where you want your plants to be placed. Then, using the tongs, insert the plants in the holes. Tamp down soil around each plant.
- Mist with the spray bottle of water.
- At this point, if the mouth of your container allows, you can put some special treasures into your “garden” such as seashells, miniature toys, silk birds, etc.
- If the container looks too soggy after a couple of days of being enclosed, take the lid off for a day or two to release some of the moisture and then reseal.
- Water only when the container becomes dry.
Just for kids
Glass gardens are the perfect opportunity to share gardening with children or grandchildren as they require little care but provide much joy.
There is a simple way to make a terrarium as well. Place a dish of potted plants onto a plastic dish and cover this with a plastic soda bottle (with the bottom removed).
This is an ideal terrarium for children to use in their rooms for their own bit of nature to enjoy all their own!