Mar 15 2011

Merging Nature, Design, and Self-Sufficiency

Terrariums recently captured my attention.  We rarely watch CBS Sunday Morning anymore, but a few months ago, the stars aligned (we were awake, not at brunch, and the show wasn't doing yet another biopic on a little known folk musician from the 1960s!).

We tuned in right at the beginning of a segment on terrariums, featuring my favorite-but-have-yet-to-go-to store, Terrain at Styers.  Terrariums are containers designed to hold small plants in controlled conditions. The closed nature of a terrarium creates an environment where one can simulate climates ranging from the desert to the rainforest.

A physician and botanist discovered the benefit and function of terrariums in the mid 19th century.  He observed that a fern growing in a jar was thriving despite the polluted air in and around his flat. Suddenly, travelers could bring tropical plants back from their travels; suddenly, maintaining a bit of nature indoors was easier than before.

Terrariums are homes to succulent plants:  these plants store water in their leaves, stems, and roots.  Because of this, they need very little watering and thrive with constant indirect sunlight.

The CBS Sunday morning piece detailed the recent swell of interest in terrariums, both the 'make your own' trend and the high-end $10,000 one-of-a-kind terrarium (like this one at Partners & Spade). As this New York Times article so aptly stated, these terrariums "look nothing like the fish-tank structures and kitschy miniature greenhouses that were popular in the ’70s."  Thank goodness!

I'm interested in gardening--eventually--but currently lack the space for much beyond herbs.  Terrariums seem like an atheistically pleasing middle ground.  They're whimsical, hardy (for the black thumbs among us), and bring a sense of homeyness to a room.

If you're curious about either purchasing a terrarium or making your own, be sure to view this Design Sponge tutorial.  I've sprinkled this post with images of terrariums, both filled, and unfilled.  Terrain, Sprout, Anthropologie, Flora Grubb, Twig, and the Botany Factory all sell both pre-assembled terrariums and all the materials you need to create your own.