The Terrarium Building Workshop

One October afternoon I received an email to ‘Save the date’ for a Terrarium-building workshop. The email stated that members of the CDT would have the opportunity to meet and mingle with each other, but also to create an individual mini-ecosystem. The penny dropped and I remembered that a Terrarium is a small-enclosed container in which plants are grown. I remembered reading recently about a British man who has a self-sustaining sealed Terrarium, which he has not had to water in over 40 years. You can watch a YouTube video on his story here. My interest was piqued and I immediately signed up for the workshop.

There were 12 of us all from different cohorts of the Web Science CDT. We sat down in front of a large jar, bowls full of compost, and some with stones in them. We were all instantly excited and wanted to pick plants straight away.

The workshop, run by Jar and Fern, included a brief histor  y of the terrariums, and scientific information about how they work, which was a good place to start. By creating a closed glass environment for plants, the walls of the jar allow in light and generate heat. The moisture builds up in the jar, which in turn produces condensation, which then waters the soil and the plant. Essentially, it is every gardener’s dream, a plant that takes care of itself. After a demonstration about what to layer first and when to use the secret ingredient, charcoal, we made a start.

The room was lively with discussion about starting, and helping each other with layering stones, charcoal and compost before the plants. We shared the tiny plants, chosen to thrive in their environment, and gave feedback about each other’s transforming creations. We all laughed a lot, got our hands dirty and ended up thoroughly impressed by the different results.

All of the terrariums are different and infused with our own interpretations of a garden in a jar!  We all had a great time getting to know other students that we had not spoken to before and loved being able to take away such a great experience, as well as the terrarium, of course!

We all discussed where we were going to keep the terrarium, home or the office. Most of us decided that we were going to keep it on our desk, so that we have something lovely to look at during the day, and because it is low maintenance, we will be able to look at it for a long time.

Blog written by Cat Morgan

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