The season for reflection and planning our gardens for the year ahead is upon us. While the colder months often have me longing for the divine warmth of spring and summer, there is much beauty to be found in the stillness, depth, and surprising colors of winter. Whether admiring the crimson berries on my Yaupon Holly, watching brilliantly colored feathered friends feasting in my backyard, or yielding to the still of the dark night that soon greets me after work, I make it a priority to relish in the gifts of winter that Mother Nature so lovingly provides.
Another winter gift that I love to delight in are seed catalogs. For me, there is no better way to banish the wintertime blues than to cozy up with a mound of freshly delivered catalogs, thumb through page after vibrant page, and dream up masterful plans for the dreamiest of gardens. With colored pencils in hand, I love to sketch out design plans for the upcoming growing season and post them on my fridge. My drawings provide me with a solid and structural growing plan and allow me the opportunity to reflect back on what worked and what didn’t in my gardens from years past.
For all of my fellow seed catalog readers who love to dream and scheme, the following books are bound to warm up your imaginations and guide you to yard of the month status…if that’s your kind of thing. It’s definitely mine.
While sketching garden plans provides me with a creative outlet to flex my green thumbs, I find that I need other hands-on activities to help keep my soul fully satisfied over the winter months. One of my favorite ways to green my indoor space and connect with nature indoors is to construct my own little gardens under glass. Terrariums are miniature gardens that you can easily create to bring a bit of sunshine to your space this winter.
To create your own terrarium you will need a glass vessel to house your plants. This container can be open or have a lid. Your choice will depend on the type of growing environment your selected plants will need. For example, succulents should be planted in an open vessel whereas humid-loving shade plants will thrive in a closed vessel. You can purchase a glass container just about anywhere. Thrift stores offer unique, low-cost options and craft stores offer a variety of choices as well. Garage and estate sales are also excellent spots to scout throughout the year. Be creative! You just might have the perfect container on hand. That old fish bowl or candy jar are begging for new life.
After you have selected a glass vessel you can begin to build the base for your terrarium. The following is a basic recipe that I use as a guide when creating enclosed terrariums featuring my favorite moisture-loving plants, ferns. Place a 1-2 inch layer of small pebbles at the bottom of a medium to large glass container for drainage. Then add in a thin layer of activated charcoal, which will act like a filter and keep your terrarium fresh. Activated charcoal can be purchased at your local gardening store. Next, add a 2-3 inch layer of quality potting soil over your charcoal and pebbles. Now it’s time to plant your greenery. It’s important to remember to select compact plants that will thrive in the same growing environment. Lightly water your plants making sure not to overwater. Since your terrarium is encased in glass, condensation will form, reducing the need to water often. To add a personal touch to your terrarium I recommend adding in decorative elements, such as small rocks, crystals, or shells from your travels. Finally, place your closed container in indirect light and be amazed at the beautiful, green art you have created.
Terrariums are fun to create for all ages, but can be especially entertaining projects for little ones. Children will love measuring out the terrarium ingredients, selecting their own plants, and learning about ecosystems. Building a terrarium is much like making a parfait or layering the ingredients for a lasagna or cake. There is a basic recipe to follow, but you have the creative license to make it your own. Kids will love adding small trinkets and toys to their new miniature worlds.
Look no further than your local library for instructional inspiration for creating your own verdant mini masterpieces. The following books will provide you with all of the detailed information that you will need to create and maintain your basic to elaborate woodland, tropical, and succulent terrariums.
Wishing you all a bountiful and beautiful 2016.