Made a terrarium yet? Social media is brimming with accounts — of novices and experts — that specialise in these miniature gardens, the numbers steadily growing.
In 1960, on Easter Sunday, when David Latimer in England, planted a seed in his terrarium, little did he know that it would be his ticket to fame. Almost 60 years later, a Google search with his name shows up a list of articles crediting him with the oldest or perhaps the second oldest terrarium in the world. And they also mention that Latimer has not watered the plant since 1972. Despite that, it continues to thrive in a bulbous 10 gallon glass jar.
Decades later, inspired by Latimer, in a corner of Mumbai, 18-year-old Asil Ansari started making his first terrarium in 2011. At that point there were not too many who shared Asil’s enthusiasm. Cut to the pandemic 2020, and interest in this crafty art form surged.
During the lockdown, Google Trends show that the search for the word terrarium peaked in mid-April . “People in metros are always looking for unique and low maintenance things to do that can serve as a distraction from their daily, busy lives. Terrariums fit this criteria. In spite of being around for several decades, many people are only just discovering them after seeing attractive pictures and videos on social media and the Internet,” says Asil.
Read More | How the terrarium trend kicked off in Chennai
While over the last 10 years he has managed to create around 20 terrariums, with the onset of WFH, productivity increased as he had the time to create 30 in just a year, and sell them as well. As an added incentive, his friends and peers are now keen to learn from him.
Social media is brimming with accounts that specialise in terrariums, the numbers steadily growing. Many of them showcase works by novice and experts from all over the world and there is constant discussion on how to improve one’s creation.
Though many enthusiasts teach themselves from videos online (there are channels such as Serpadesign and The Urban Nemophilist that specialise in terrariums), workshops have picked up over the last year.
Chennai-based dancer, actor and choreographer Jeffery Vardon says that not many were aware of his love for gardens and all things green. During the lockdown, a few people saw his terrariums and asked to be taught. “Last May I did a virtual workshop for Chennai’s Savera Hotel’s Green Goddesses Club. We sent out 50 jars — packaged with pebbles, cocoa peat, mesh, and plants in boxes — to participants’ homes. But 105 participants ended up attending the session,” says Jeffery, who also has a channel on YouTube (DIY with Jeff) that discusses the nitty gritty of all things handmade.
This past weekend, he conducted yet another workshop at the VA Gallery in Chennai. Though the total number was sealed at 20 participants, the overwhelming response made them extend it to 30 physically, while the rest attended online. The interesting turnout included three generations: granddaughter, mother and grandmother.
Green and lively
- The materials required can be either sourced at home or from aquarium shops. If all else fails, there is always online shopping. For starters, pick up slow growing plants like philodendrons or small plants such as wild ferns, creeping fig, moss or wood sorrels. Trick is to not over water the plants, don’t put them in direct sunlight. You can make one in under ₹1,000, depending on the jar you choose.
- The latest trends include geometric glass moss wall terrariums, carnivorous plant terrariums, and Nature replica designs among others.
“It is a great activity for those who want to spend time together, creating something, says Sarita Bhutra of Terrario in Bengaluru. “I have had mother-daughter duos, couples, and friends attending my two-and-a-half hour-long workshops,” she adds. The increase in demand for workshops has gone up by 25% in the last year, she says. There are two types of terrariums, open and close. She teaches the open ones as they are easier to handle.
With a gamut of activities moving online, Sarita says get-togethers like kitty parties now include virtual terrarium making workshops. She also conducts workshops for companies such as Google, Dell and Alstom. Corporates have picked up on this creative trend, understanding the importance of creatively engaging employees as they work from home.
Green with creativity
Jeffery is keen on especially encouraging young people in the their teens and twenties to take up gardening. Mildly peeved that the majority in this age group is uninterested in plants, Jeffery worries about the green cover in the future. “We will probably have virtual gardens,” he laughs adding that the lack of interest among youngsters in realgardening is because they do not want to take the effort to till the soil, add manure and water the plant. “So, a terrarium is typically good for them. They can create it, lock it and leave it on the window sill,” he adds.
A terrarium is an ecosystem on its own, Jeffery explains. All you need is a jar. Put pebbles at the bottom, and a mesh over that, followed by coal and cocoa peat. He puts small twigs and dried leaves, followed by bigger stones on top, then adds small figurines based on the creator’s preference.
It could be miniature Buddha figurines or birds, or as in the case of Asil, skulls. “It was for a friend for Halloween. And another had a plane crash scene in a jungle,” Asil laughs. Earlier a niche trend, limited to the artistically-inclined, and boutiques, over the last 10 months terrariums have become popular, not just as a hobby but also as décor. “Additionally, playing in favour of terrariums is the fact that they are simple, convenient, not time consuming or space occupying,” says Asil.
And for someone who loves plants but does not have the luxury of space, this is a good way to bring greenery home.
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