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Homage to the Terrarium July 13, 2011

Posted by lilabdesign in Inspiration, Styling.
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If a room could be a room, filled with small rooms, in each we would place plants.  Here is our homage to the Terrarium, the Wardian Cases of yore!

What is it?

The Terrarium is a closed environment where condensation allows the plant to self water.

But wait… you said Wardian Case!

Indeed!  Delighted to hear you are paying close attention!  A Wardian Case is named for Dr. Bagshaw Ward who is generally accredited with inventing (and subsequently popularizing) small enclosed gardens around 1830 after observing how ferns could flourish while enclosed in his London home although they were struggling outdoors.

I made a terrarium once as a child in science class.  Are these really visually interesting enough to add to my interior?

Absolutely!  Artist and horticulturist Paula Hayes creates terrarium art for galleries and art fairs around the world.  Not long ago she installed a few at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Why do we love it?

While we live in the city we love nature and quite simply we have found no better way to bring the beauty of living landscapes inside.  And, just as Dr. Ward discovered, sometimes there are outdoor fluctuations in temperature or even the presence of pollutants that make growing an enclosed garden inside ideal.

Okay.  I am sold.  What sort of glass container should I build one in?

We suggest checking to see what sort of glass container you already have.  Ask yourself, would I like this terrarium to be flat or tall, as this will influence the type of plants that will feel at home in it.  In addition, the larger the opening in the glass, the easier it will be for it to dry out but easier for you to get your plants in!

I don’t have a large glass container.  Is there anything else I can use?

Absolutely!  Good options include mason jars and old fish bowls.  Or if you’re truly driven: custom hand blown glass … how about that?

So I am at the nursery, how can I choose what to put in my terrarium?

Sophie from Lila B. Design suggests that you consider picking plants that go together, that naturally are comfortable in the same environment.  You might consider choosing plants that do well in wet environments, all succulents, or even air plants. A fun source for carnivorous plants in the Bay Area is California Carnivores and for a whole array of choices under one roof head down to Half Moon Bay Nursery.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Sophie is delighted by dioramas and installations at museums such as San Francisco’s Academy of Sciences.  Alternatively, the next time you are on a hike, notice the details that make up your natural environment.

Oh yeah?  Well what is the most special thing Sophie has added to a terrarium lately?

At the moment Sophie is excited about the interesting touch that adding a dried insect or two can add.  One especially beautiful recent creation featured a luna moth (see photo above).  In addition look for interesting pieces of wood and stones to make a little scene.

Here we’ve added a Preying Mantis we collected from at Paxton Gate. Can you see it?

This sounds easy enough.  Are there any last minute tips?

The death of many a terrarium is instigated by a drought.  Be careful to keep it as moist as your plants desire.  Use a spray gun, small mister, dropper, or if you’ve got a very large terrarium a turkey baster will do the job.

Actually I just changed my mind.  I don’t have any time to build a terrarium… what can I do?!?

Of course we are delighted to help you with all your terrarium needs here at Lila B. Design.  Tell us the feel you would like to create or the plants you would like to feature and we will go to town!

Wow, this is so exciting!  Where can I learn more?  Check out some of our favorites in just made photos by Holly Stewart Photography, or stop by Lila B to chat with us.  While you are here wander up the block and check out her most recent creation at Stable Cafe.  Or… if you are not local we suggest checking out the work of celebrated terrarium artists Tovah Martin and Paula Hayes.

All Photos by Holly Stewart Photography.

In case you couldn’t see our Preying Mantis, here’s a close up.

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