Here in Michigan, round about October, the leaves have mostly shaken free from their places in the trees and the branches are strikingly bare. While I am a girl who loves the four seasons, including the magic of Winter, I am also an avid gardener at heart. Living somewhere that is without leaves for SIX MONTHS of the year can get to be a bit much for me.
I’ve learned a few tricks to balm my heart when the depth of Winter persists and I find myself longing for the comfort that only green can bring. A verdant landscape is a verdant landscape, even if it is tiny, and so many people have been smitten with the little “gardens in jars” that I’ve placed around my home and our In Sacred Balance Community Center, I have taken to making extra for gifts each year. This year we’ll be making tiny terrariums in Diana Circle, our Ann Arbor youth group for bright souls in the coming of age years.
This joyful solution to the winter blahs can benefit from thinking a bit ahead. I keep an eye open for inexpensive, creative containers throughout the year and set them aside until the time is right. These lovely vintage etched glass dessert cups were 1.00 each at a local thrift shop. They make perfect homes for tiny desert scapes, a/k/a succulent gardens.
Making terrariums and/or desert scapes is a lot easier than most people think, and it’s a lot of fun. This is an activity you can definitely share with the kids, and one that I have seen make enthusiastic children out of comparatively reserved adults. I myself am a sucker for great renditions of miniature worlds. There is nothing more magical than staring into a tiny, verdant forest in the depth of the coldest Winter months.
What you need:
- Clear glass containers with secure lids. (I strongly prefer to skip insignia and or any sort of design on the sides of the jar as they obscure optimal view of the tiny landscape and as I said, I like scouring thrift stores for interesting, inexpensive containers.)
- Pebbles for drainage
- Good quality organic potting soil
- Aquarium/terrarium charcoal (small chips to mix with your soil)
- Diminutive plants and/or varieties of moss. I prefer a combination for structural variance in the “landscape” and I personally mindfully harvest my moss from the areas I frequent throughout the warmer months. However, moss is miraculous and you can purchase it dried from many garden and/or craft stores and reconstitute it with water!
- I also gather up small branches, beautiful stones, occasional tasteful figurines, and components that will add interest to the landscape. Here is a case where sticks and stones will do you well and cost literally nothing.Directions:
- Gather up your clean and dry vessels. Remember, terrariums need a fitted lid and succulent gardens are best open to the air.
- Place approximately ½ inch to 2 inches of pebbles for drainage in the bottom of all vessels (depending on the size of your container).
- Mix approximately four parts potting soil to one part charcoal in a sizable container.
- Put enough potting soil into your vessels to accommodate your succulents, plants and/or mosses. You’ll have to use your head on this one as container sizes vary widely. But here are some general guidelines: in your terrariums, make sure that there is enough soil to thoroughly cover the roots of your plants and enough space above for the plants to breathe and stretch as they grow. Succulents can get away with surprisingly little soil to tuck their roots into and prefer that any exposed soil be covered with a medium that encourages dryness. Pebbles or small stones can be used here again, and or decorative “sands”. I love using ground gems or semi-precious stones for added beauty!
If you fall in love with terrariums, as I have, and you want to try out more ideas, this is a book you may have fun with!
The New Terrarium by Kindra Clineff