There’s a huge hand-blown bottle sitting under a table in my living room. My late husband Hank bought it for me at a garage sale and for more than a decade it sat empty, waiting to be turned into a terrarium. Its time has come.
A terrarium is a glass-enclosed collection of small plants that’s self-contained. Once established, it’s sustainable, needing water only on rare occasions. Because they require little to no maintenance, these little gardens are great for offices as well as homes.
Terrariums date back to the Greeks in 500 B.C. In 1827, a London physician developed decorative containers made of glass and metal known as Wardian cases, and terrariums became the rage in the Victorian era. They were also big back in the ’70s.
Decorative glass containers and houseplants are both in vogue today, so terrariums are again hot items. And they’re perfect indoor gardens for those with busy lifestyles who don’t have time to fuss over plants.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a glass vessel. Old fish bowls, large canning jars or glass storage containers work nicely. A glass plate makes a great cover for bowls and other topless vessels. Glass cloches become classy covers for orchids and other plants of stature.
Terrariums can be made in all sizes and look stunning when grouped together. The larger the vessel, the more room to add accoutrements. A charming woodland scene may include a stone path, a moss-covered stump and a toad statue. A tiny mirror edged with moss becomes a pond. The options are endless.
To take the mystery out of choosing plants and planting, pick up a copy of “The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays” by Tovah Martin (Clarkston Potter, $25). It’s chock full of gorgeous photos of completed gardens that are sure to inspire you.
Best known for her wonderful book “Tasha Tudor’s Garden,” Martin is also a houseplant guru. But she doesn’t limit her plant selection to traditional houseplants. Thanks to one of Martin’s tips, as soon as the snow melts I will be taking cuttings from my colorful shade garden heucheras to color up my new terrarium.