After a hectic few months in the studio, we were all feeling like we needed a spot of R&R so we signed ourselves up for a terrarium masterclass. What could be more relaxing than a couple of hours landscaping a miniature garden inside a bottle, right?
Despite being a super Shoreditch hobby, the workshop was hosted at CASS gallery on the Goodwood Estate by the very enthusiastic Emma from London Terrariums. After a brief potted history of terrariums, we were each armed with our own ‘Tiny John’ (bottle) and an assortment of improvised garden implements, before being unleashed on the plants.
The concept is beautifully simple:
- Start with some gravel for drainage. A handful is enough.
- Add a layer of activated charcoal (works as a filter to keep moss at bay). Don't be over enthusiastic with this. You only need a teaspoon.
- Add some top-soil. You can make this level or if you're feeling adventurous, you can create a slope.
- Lastly, plant your plants.
“Easy” we thought. “Ain’t nothin’ to it” we said.
The ‘Tiny Johns’ are sealed vessels which means that water continually evaporates, condenses and circulates within. So in theory they require very little looking after. Perfect for people like Matt who struggle keeping cacti looking healthy for anything longer than a day or two. Although bets are, even this he’ll find a way to kill.
The initial construction of the substrate (gravel, charcoal and soil) went pretty smoothly with only a few minor incidents involving peat enriched coffee. However things really got interesting when it came to the planting.
Bear in mind, the necks of the bottles are 3cm wide and anything that you want to put into your terrarium, must first pass through that gap and be meticulously maneuvered into position using chopsticks, extra long tweezers, a cork on a stick or pretty much anything thin enough to fit through the gap.
We all shared a variety of different jungle plants, ferns and mosses, which enjoy a humid, shady environment. These were carefully dissected into manageable chunks (or brutally butchered in Becky’s case - that poor fern) and lowered into place. Most required some form of, for want of a better word, “fluffing” so they looked less mangled.
Obviously, before we started we all thought we’d be next in line for medals at the Chelsea Flower Show. But after several hours of what essentially boiled down to a horticultural version of the board game Operation, we realised it wasn’t quite as easy as it looks.
Everyone enjoyed the day and one week later about 50% of our terrariums are still going strong. So all in all a great success.
Roll on the next Superrb social. Barista training anyone?
Cover Pic - Íris Erlings.