Sunday, May 5, 2013

miniature gardens: a Challenge

"In Springtime, the Earth renews itself. Life bursts forth from that which seemed dead. Create a project (using any media you desire) that honors a spirit of renewal."

So states the Blogging Business Artisans etsy team April Challenge created by me.  I love Springtime, the season when the Earth renews itself and hope returnsFlowers bloom, birds build nests and wait for babies to hatch.
I love plants, so what better way to celebrate Spring and renewal than to do some gardening!  miniature gardening!  I have become obsessed with terrariums and small scale gardening.

First I re-planted a conservatory (Wardian Case) I've had for several years.  I left the angel wing begonia in place but cut it way back.  In time it will grow to fill the upper space and will have lovely pink blossoms.  Additional plants were a woodland fern, crassula, moss covered bark, polka dot plant, kalanchoe, unknown plants, and woodland moss.  Since this case is partially open to the air, I occasionally water some of the plants and I mist the moss.
beginning the arrangement

 a little scene with a bench, watering can, pathway, and boulders

Next I made completely enclosed terrariums for my twin goddaughters.  
 Here's how to do it.

1.     Wash container thoroughly 
some of the glassware I found at thrift stores

supplies: clockwise from top--plants, charcoal, moss, pebbles, spagnum moss

2.     Layer of tiny pebbles or gravel, an inch or two depending on the size of your terrarium.

3.     Thin layer of activated charcoal which helps absorb moisture and sweetens the water

4.     Layer of sphagnum moss to absorb excess water/ release water if needed

5.     Layer of good draining potting soil, moistened with filtered water. This should not clump wetly together, but fall apart a bit in your hand.  How much soil you need depends on the plants you choose and the depth of their root systems.

6.     Add plants—small plants so they have room to grow

7.     Add moss.  Mist the moss with filtered water.
8.     Add aesthetic elements such as figurines, rocks, sticks, bark, and other decorative elements

9.     Place in indirect light.


plants: woodland fern, coleus, variegated spider plant, crassula, woodland moss


OPEN:   will need water added as required by the needs of the plants inside.  Moss will need to be misted regularly.
CLOSED:  Occasional misting may be necessary, especially with moss.
In either case, watch to see if more water is needed or if the terrarium needs an airing out.


As plants grow, they may need to be removed.  Divide and replant if possible.
Some plants can be given a “haircut” to keep their growth in bounds.

REFERENCES (an incomplete list):
little big 
The Garden Helper 
little big in a glass Christmas tree type ornament
Terrarium Man tutorial + links to other terrariums 
Gardener's Supply a different method

life in sugar hollow 
little big 
little big photos and links

terrariums  lots of photos 

Dave's Garden 

mossarium  lots of photos
terrarium  lots of photos

make a mini greenhouse with picture frames at Country Living
terrariums and mini gardens at CNN Living 

I perused the library for possible books on the subject
Gathering Moss:  A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses, Robin Wall Kimmerer
Tabletop Gardens: 40 Stylish Plantscapes for Counters and Shelves, Desktops and Windowsills, Rosemary McCreary
Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds, Amy Bryant Aiello and Kate Bryant 
Terrariums:  An Easy Guide to Growing a Host of Miniature Gardens Using Traditional Terrariums, Glass Bottles and Decorative Dishes, Pamela Westland
Terrariums Reimagined:  Mini Worlds Made in Creative Containers, Kat Geiger 
The Complete Book of Terrarium Gardening, Jack Kramer
The New Terrarium, Tovah Martin
The Terrarium Book, Charles M. Evans, Roberta Lee Pliner, and Betty Fraser
The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home, Tovah Martin
Tiny World Terrariums:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Easily Contained Life, Michelle Inciarrano and Katy Maslow

Tovah Martin 
Twig Terrariums 

In general, be sure to put plants together that have similar needs for light and water.  There may be exceptions.  My plant conservatory is doing well with succulents, non-succulents, and moss.  I am watching it carefully, and accomodating the individual watering needs of each plant.  Since this is an open case and not small, it works well.

I bought the pebbles and activated charcoal in the pet section of a store.

terrarium -my blog post with a photo of one of my daughter's terrariums  
outdoor miniature garden I made with photos 

photos by me © 2013 all rights reserved


  1. I never really thought about terrariums much. They're like fairy sized gardens aren't they?

    Thanks for linking up!

    Sarah @ A Cat-Like Curiosity

  2. Your granddaughters will LOVE the terrariums! And what a wealth of information in your post! Thank you!

  3. Margaret, your miniature garden is adorable! I love the little pathway you created :) And those terrariums are wonderful! Your goddaughters will enjoy these very much!

  4. Beautiful! And, wow, you really went in depth for this project! I love gardening, but I've never attempted a mini garden. Yours looks fantastic!

  5. Thanks for sharing your project! Beautiful miniature garden!!

  6. I love terrariums! I just saw a bunch of succulents and air plants at the hardware store yesterday, and it made me want to put some together. Maybe next week when school is over...

    These look great!

  7. Thanks for the detailed tutorial! Your terrariums are beautiful.

  8. Wow - what fun! Thanks for the detailed explanation. Yours look very lovely - so nice to have green growing plants around the home.

  9. what a large "incomplete list" of things to learn from. Your terrarium with the little bench is adorable! I love little scenes like this! {:-D

  10. Terrific tutorial!

    ♥ aquariann
    Featured Photo: Triumph Tulips

  11. Wow! I've learned so much from your post, so beautifully illustrated too. Many thanks for sharing!

  12. I love these! I so badly want to make some but I kill everything! I let all the flowers die out in the yard right before my daughter's wedding reception so my husband had to go out the week before and buy more.

    He mentioned something about watering them. What's with that?

    They are beautiful and maybe I'll give it a try!

  13. You will be a GREAT resource for your goddaughters! What a great idea to give them terrariums. Me? Well, my plants all die because I forget to water them. It's a simple step, and easy to forget. Sigh.

  14. This is exactly what I've been looking for! I live in an apartment, so an actual garden isn't really an option. I'm definitely going to try this out this weekend :)

    New follower from etsy :)


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