I spent most of last Wednesday walking around with extra caution- not because of the slip hazards caused by the ‘unseasonable’ rain, or my own questionable spacial awareness, but because I had a big glass bowl in my back pack.
A big glass bowl, otherwise know as a Terrarium.
I had booked on to Geo Fleur’s Terrarium session at West Elm and so my glass bowl was travelling with me on the tube and I was desperately trying to deliver it in tact, ready to fill with botanical babes.
With my growing love of Cacti and Succulents becoming more and more apparent through my leafy flat take over, it was natural that I was led toward Terrariums and managed to convince a friend to accompany me to this very civilised evening.
If you don’t know, Terrariums are glass bowls or vessels, planted up with a selection of green lovelies, to act as a little inside garden. They were first popular in Victorian times when garden space was at a premium and then also appeared again through the late 70’s and 80’s, when grooviness was at a premium.
The combination of structural succulents, all contained in a little glass bubble really is magic.
We started the lesson with a demonstration of how to build up and plant our Terrariums. Here’s a brief, second hand run down, but if you want some more in depth plant info, these workshop are running again through September and October and can be booked here (this is an official FOB thumbs up, it’s great, get your green fingers moving friends)
Selection of cacti and succulents
Moss or Gravel
Tongs and Spoons
1. Layer up 3-4 cms of soil at the bottom, it’s best to use the speciality Cactus blend, as it will give your plants better drainage.
2. If available, sprinkle in some powdered charcoal, again this really helps with drainage and keeping the soil how cactus and succulents like it.
3. Have a play with how you would like to arrange your plants, whilst they are still in the pots. Clusters of 3 work well and we were also given the advice to build up plants of different heights. Dealing with the prickly cacti can be tricky so watch out for needles and use tong to help if you are a delicate flower.
4. Once you have decided on the arrangement, make little wells and pop the plants in. It is worth loosening the root ball a little and then bedding them in. These type of plants like a quite compact soil, so be sure they are inserted sturdily- A spoon was a great help here for turf squishing.
5. You can finish up by putting a layer of either gravel or moss on top of the soil. Using gravel helps weigh down the plants and if you use aquarium gravel it also factors into the all important drainage. If you are using moss it needs a good dampening first, then just press down around the base of the plants.
It really is that, beautifully, simple!
I do have a few words of warning if you are thinking about doing this course though- you have limited time so a smaller terrarium is advised. Also you are in a room with 20 other people trying to earn the ‘best in show’ ribbon for their terrarium and as of such there can be quite a lot of jostling for the best plants/ spoon/ gravel, I was lucky enough to be on what my gal pal and I christened a ‘renegade’ table where we were happy to just go with the flow and not get too harassed by sharing the squirt bottle, but there were others who became quite possessive of said squirter. All in all is was a great evening and I found the extra succulent care tips given really helpful and spurred me to give all my plants a bit of TLC.
With the addition of some extra rocks, wood and bark you can build up a spectacular miniature scene, some other attendees even added some tiny dinosaurs for that Jurassic feel. If you want to google Star Wars terrariums, don’t hold me responsible for the extreme feelings of jealousy it will cause.
By using Cacti and Succulents, it means the terrarium is pretty self sufficient. Check the soil every couple of weeks and spritz with a bit of water when it is bone dry- the easy way to kill these plants is through over watering that causes plant rot, it really is a case of tough love here. Gal Pal and I have already started scheming for more terrarium construction and by feeling particularly herbaceous after the workshop, I spent my Sunday morning toddling around Homebase to get some more plants, because there still a few spare surfaces in my flat without leafy coverage.
This workshop moved me firmly into the ‘plant fancier’ category, I have even bought my own squirt bottle….hands off.