Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hi-tech Mock Terrarium

The craft (or perhaps gardening method) of making terrariums has become quite mainstream over the past several years.  People are not only growing plants in terrariums - but an increasing number of artists and designers push the envelope of what comprises a terrarium.  The above diorama-type installation is a "terrarium" shell created out of molded paper, with an iPhone video providing the view.

See more at svapodmaking.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Geometric Terraria

If the Dodecahedron terrarium from earlier this week got you hankering for your own crystalline terrarium form, look no further than Meg Myers Etsy shop replete with recycled glass terrariums.  These unique vessels would make a beautiful hanging or desktop terrarium.

Meg A. Myers via

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yoda Terrarium We Have

I've admired the faux terrarium work of Etsy seller Megatone230 on the blog before (emergent mossy head anyone?).  Thanks to my friend Jana for sharing a link to this delightful Yoda figure terrarium.  However, I feel that Star Wars landscapes could make for a more intricate terrarium interior!  Perhaps an entire Wardian Case scene.

Megatone230 via

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Achieve crystal clarity in your terrarium with transparent soil

A team of UK researchers have developed a transparent polymer substrate that can serve as soil for  plants, allowing an unusual window onto root development.  Imagine the implication for terrariums!

My favorite juxtaposition in a terrarium arrangement is the playful commentary on transparency.  You see the plants in a terrarium through the glass container- but you can insert additional transparent or translucent elements using pieces of glass, crystals or plastic that may provide glimpses of soil or plants in a new second lens.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dodecahedron Terrarium

When I was a kid, my Grandpa sent me this paper workbook about 3-D geometric forms.  Think origami meets paper doll meets rocket scientist.  I never really got the hang of building the shapes - but it left me with a profound respect for the beauty inherent in three dimensional geometry.

Dodecahedron terrarium from

Monday, September 24, 2012

Moss Monday: Rika Zu

The image for today's "Moss Monday" is a total cheat as there is no moss but can't resist sharing more images from the NYPL Digital Collection.  If you recall, I originally shared some classic fern botanical prints.

Today's print hails from the 1673 book Rika Zu (Flower arrangement), available in digital format through the NYPL collection "Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan."  Ikebana explores the tension between the natural and the unnatural, the symmetry and asymmetry - all design principles that can be applied to terrarium arrangement.

Have you seen any alternative flower arrangements using moss?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Buy Air Plants (tillandsia) Online

My post last week about the Jellyfish Air Plants attracted quite a bit of attention.  While I love the ingenuity of that Etsy seller, the item doesn't look that hard to DIY.  If you are looking for a variety of tillandsia to jumpstart your next craft the site have a variety and some reasonably-priced combo packs.  The site also provides excellent information on how to water your air plant or tillandsia:

"You can also mist your plants as needed, in between watering but misting should not be used as a sole source of moisture. We prefer to use a dunking method when we water, and then every other week or so we will give the plants a longer soak for an hour or 2.  Always take care to gently shake any excess water off the base of the plants, as sitting water can cause rot and damage/kill the plant.  It is recommended that you water your plants in the morning, and leave them out of their containers in an area that they can dry within 4 hours.  Never let your Air Plant sit in water for prolonged periods of time!"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Leaded Glass Globe Bell Jar

I spotted this one-of-a-kind leaded glass bell-jar type terrarium in the Kansas Craigslist.  Here's the link if it's still an active post and you are lucky enough to be local and snap this treasure up.

For those with any stained glass experience, would this be a difficult piece to replicate?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wardian Case Kit

Alright, day three of discussing Wardian Cases!  If you've been following along and now you think "I sure know someone that would love one of those as a kit" you are in luck.  White Flower Farm is accepting orders for the above "Victorian Conservatory" terrarium kit.  For $115 you receive the case, potting soil, sand, charcoal, pebbles and the plants listed below.

All these plants are terrarium all-stars and should make for an easy starter set for any "black thumb."

  • Ruby Red Club Moss (Selaginella erythropus 'Sanguinea')
  • Button Fern (Pellaea rotundifolia)
  • Peacock Moss (Selaginella uncinata)
  • Pin Cushion Spikemoss (Selaginella kraussiana 'Brownii')
  • Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium antiquum 'Victoria')

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

H Potter Wardian Cases

Inspired to build your own wardian case ala yesterday's post?  H Potter has a variety of leaded terrarium vessels befitting the best plant explorers of the nineteenth century.  I'm partial to that six-sided one myself.

And remember, a wardian case makes a great container to observe your new terrarium plants before planting them in a narrow-necked bottle or other hard to access vessel.  Read more about observing plants and moss in a quarantine setting here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nathaniel Ward and his Eponymous Case

One of my all-time favorite blogs I09 featured a mini-story on Nathaniel Ward and is devilishly clever Wardian Case.  I understood the development of the terrarium as a method of transporting exotic specimens for building botanical gardens, but the author points out that industry developed out of the ability to move plants as well, leading to "terraforming" certain regions for particular needs:

This allowed people to terraform their environments to a degree never before achieved. It wasn't just that people in cities could admire a pretty foreign plant in their parlor. The British could ship tea plants across continents from a hostile nation and transplant them to a country where they could be mass-grown. Fruit trees could be transported across climates that would kill them into foreign places where they would thrive. A Peruvian tree was known to produce quinine — a defense against malaria. Malaria was, and is still, a terrifying killer. It could be stemmed only with the medication found in Peru. Once it was put in a case and shipped out, malaria could by prevented everywhere. Plants that could provide medicine, nourishment, or just enormous profit, could be taken wherever they were needed (or could be grown en masse) regardless of where they originated.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Steampunk Firearm Terrarium

Grow Gun by Duncan Shirah

Atlanta artist Duncan Shirah mixes carved wood with terrarium elements to generate unusual works of art.  See more at the artist's webpage or at the upcoming Atlanta Mini Maker Faire in October.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Walk-in Terrarium

Ever dream of building a massive, walk-in terrarium in your home?  Imgur user foolx shared a slideshow of a massive DIY project to build a zoo-quality terrarium enclosure for his large pet snake.

 Click through here to see the entire, impressive project documented during the different stages of construction.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Text Sculpture Terrarium

Check out this extraordinary instructable by CultureBrain to create wall-mounted, letter-shaped terraria. DIY-er beware, this instructable is achieved with the use of machine-shop-level equipment but the result couldn't be more polished and innovative.  Any chance of opening a retail shop, CultureBrain?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bookshelf Terrarium

Designed by Soo-Yeon Yang, via Yanko Design

After Lauran Conrad's bookshelf craft debacle, it is refreshing to see a bookshelf decoration idea that has less to do with destroying a book in order to mimic a book on a shelf.  Instead, Soo-Yeon Yang imagines a mock book that contains a narrow terrarium to add a bit of green to your book collection.  Thanks to Gennie for sharing this link!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Feedback Farms Explores Remote Monitoring of Vegetable Gardens

Photo courtesy of Feedback Farms, via Wired

We have explored some applications of using technology to monitor feedback and care of small plantings in terrariums on the blog before: the iphone-managed Plant-in City project and the iPad-managed Biome.  Do these ideas have more practical applications for monitoring a remote garden?

Wired recently covered a large scale monitored garden in Brooklyn dubbed the "Feedback Farms."  Through the use of bionic sensors, designer Tom Hallaran and company devised an experimental plot of vegetables to monitor and thus identify optimal growth conditions for a garden in a reclaimed urban plot of land.   Hallaran explains to Wired:

"We're monitoring moisture and light at various stages for a test to evaluate five different planter designs," Hallaran says. "We've got 40 beds on half the lot. Each bed is planted with the same varieties of kale and tomatoes, but in randomized positions,  The types of beds are also randomized. We're evaluating yield and crop quality." 
Hallaran, who studied software design at Reed College before dropping out and spent summers during high school and college working on New England farms, designed a virtual dashboard that displays key information about how the plants are progressing. "If you're trying to coordinate production on two lots that are in this case, in Brooklyn, about a half mile apart, how do you prioritize which one to check out if you have limited labor?"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Lotusland: Japanese Garden

Japanese garden at Lotusland

I'll be out of town this week so I am sharing some of my old photos of my favorite garden on the west coast: Lotusland in Montecito, California. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lotusland: Cactus Garden

I'll be out of town this week so I am sharing some of my old photos of my favorite garden on the west coast: Lotusland in Montecito, California.

Cactus garden at Lotusland

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lotusland: Fern Garden

Fern garden at Lotusland
I'll be out of town this week so I am sharing some of my old photos of my favorite garden on the west coast: Lotusland in Montecito, California. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Lotusland: Traditional Gardens

Topiary garden at Lotusland

I'll be out of town this week so I am sharing some of my old photos of my favorite garden on the west coast: Lotusland in Montecito, California.

The theatre garden contains an audience of stone grotesques

Painted tiles by the house

Massive tree at the edge of the lawn

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lotusland: Ganna Walska, Patron of the Garden Arts

Madame Ganna Walska
I'll be out of town this week so I am sharing some of my old photos of my favorite garden on the west coast: Lotusland in Montecito, California.

 Madame Ganna Walska was an eccentric polish opera starlet with a penchant for the extraordinary: she was fond of taking morning swims in the nude, investigating the occult and the bizarre and amassing exotic plants.

"She married six times, wrote her autobiography, Always Room at the Top, and continued to study both vocal music and spiritual teachings in search of creative fulfillment and personal enlightenment. After residing in Paris and New York, Madame Walska turned her sights toward California’s sunny climate and free-thinking residents." 

Needless to say she sounds like an awesome old bird and I wish I could have attended one of her famed seance soirees back in the day. She founded the vast estate now-known as "Lotusland" in 1941 and used the grounds, her money and her connections to create a lush fantasy land of gardens.

"She wanted the best, the biggest, and the most unusual plants available and was often willing to pay any price to get them. So determined was she to finish the work she had begun that in the 1970s she auctioned off some of her jewelry in order to finance her final creation—the cycad garden." 

The grounds feature 17 themed gardens containing over 3,000 plants.