How To Garden When You Don't Have A Garden
The Debrief: Terrariums are where it's at you guys
Forget the Chelsea Flower Show, Kew Gardens and the Barbican’s Insta friendly conservatory, in 2015 the world wide web is where it’s at for horticulture porn. Be houseplant your fix granted from Pinterest, Tumblr or one of those art leaning listicles, it’s pretty clear that the cactus is king; it has its own emoji for Christ’s sake.
Steer your eyes away from the screen however, and the same holds true IRL too. But a prickly line up isn’t the only way to flex your green fingered muscle when your local park (and adopted garden) is a 10-minute walk, uphill. Enter the terrarium, the next best green response to your deepest Charlie Dimmock meets Carol Smillie query (they bring the outdoors indoors, see) that will distinguish your living space from your best friend/sister/second cousin’s.
WATCH: Nik Southern, Founder of Grace and Thorn, Show Us How To Look After Our Terrarium
So what the heck is a terrarium?
A ship in a bottle situation but with a mini ecosystem in place of the boat: a terrarium acts like a sort of greenhouse (give or take the science bit) that you can hold in your hands and that’ll sit pretty on your windowsill. They range from desert terrariums and woodland terrariums to orchid terrariums and carnivorous terrariums.
Where exactly do I begin?
As one half of girl boy duo London Terrariums, Emma Sibley explains: 'You can literally make one with an old jam jar and a bit of moss and can use any tools that you find around the house, for example an old cotton reel taped to a stick works perfectly for patting down the soil. When we started, we were just using the pebbles from Tom’s front garden and cuttings we had taken from house plants of friends and family and the moss that we found in our gardens.'
I’m not really much of a preserves person.
No worries, LT swear by four key vessels: Hanging Globes, Kilner Jars, Demijohns and Carboys (pretty much the same as a demijohn). “For our workshops we use the Kilner as it is easiest for people to get their hands in and pot the plants,” states Emma. Get yours from John Lewis or IKEA, or if you really fancy a challenge (read: the Demijohn), the Internet has your back.
Talk to me about specifics.
Emma and Tom (Murphy, partner in crime at LT) make haste for Covent Garden New Flower Market at 4am most mornings, but B&Q et al work just as well for picking up the basics – and more importantly boast reasonable opening hours. Vessel aside, the basics commonly consist of soil, stones and petite potted plants; horticultural charcoal (hit up eBay) is a must for keeping the terrarium clean. Low on funds? Get foraging. A funnel, spoon, stick and paintbrush will also help with shovelling the soil, patting it and cleaning the vessel.
Start with the stones, follow with the charcoal, soil and plants. Finish up with a spritz of water.
How often should I water it?
A typical Google search will throw up several different answers, but Emma and Tom attest that the condensation formed in the vessel hydrates the plant (so you don’t have to).
So I’m good to go?
Almost. 'We have a grace period of a few weeks,' Emma told us, 'during this time the plants need to adapt to their surroundings within the vessel and the terrarium as a whole will need to acclimatise to the surrounding that it has been placed in. You may need to keep opening and closing the lid, until the conditions inside the terrarium reach their correct point, you don’t want it to be too moist and humid inside but at the same time the terrarium cannot be dry, finding the balance is key. You will need to monitor your terrarium though, as you are dealing with living things.'
What if I wanna go wild and put a cacti or succulent in the terrarium?
Sure, but the vessel will need to be kept open with a really good cycle of air says Emma.
Sweet, now where’s the best spot to show off my new skillset?
Prop it by the windowsill for optimum sunshine vibes and maximum #madskillz exposure.
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