In 1827, Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, a London physician and amateur naturalist, was inspired to design a large, wooden, glass-topped closed container, later called a Wardian case after he discovered a tiny fern growing in the soil of a stoppered glass jar. Such cases became the standard for transporting living plants by ship throughout the world. He later also realized that closed glass containers, or terrariums, could also be used for growing and displaying plants indoors.
I found this picture when researching terrariums and thought it could be a great combination of my loves – herbs and tea!! A terrarium can allow you to incorporate nature into a room and continue gardening through the winter in miniature. Here are some tips:
- A glass container, with or without a lid such as an old aquarium or goldfish bowl, an old-fashioned cloche with a dish for it to rest on, or a large glass teapot! The container must be very clean to minimize the risk of plant disease.
- Enough tiny pebbles to cover 1 to 2 inches of your container for drainage.
- ½ inch of activated carbon to cover the pebbles.
- A water-permeable barrier to keep the soil from drifting to the pebbles such as landscape cloth.
- Good quality organic potting soil from a garden center.
- Select small, low growing, moisture-loving plants in a variety of heights, textures, leaf sizes and colors depending on the size of your container
- Herbs might include violets, sweet woodruff and creeping thyme (Thymus serpyllum) plus sedum, ferns or clover
- Add 1 to 2 inches of gravel or small rocks to the bottom of the container to prevent the plants from sitting in too much water and eventually rotting.
- Add a thin layer of charcoal - insert your carbon and soil with a funnel made from semi-stiff cardboard to prevent carbon dust from splashing up the sides of your container.
- Add potting soil, also with a funnel, until a quarter full and make a little scene with hills for the plants and valleys
- Place the largest plant first, as they will take up the most space, digging a hole with a long teaspoon and using tongs to place and then tamp down soil around each plant. Make sure the leaves are not touching the glass sides to prevent unnecessary condensation.
- Add moss or a ground cover
- Using a spray bottle, add about a small amount of water to the terrarium for the finishing touch. If condensation completely clouds the container, remove the lid and let the garden dry out for a day or two.
- Place your terrarium in indirect light and water only if the soil feels dry
- Interesting rocks as boulders or small twigs/driftwood
- Glass or sea glass
- A small statue/animal
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”