Being fifty-something, I’m a terrier when it comes to a gift-giving mission. I love to stick to my guns and, in this year of buying nothing new, it’s more critical than ever.
With my great niece Miss E’s fifth birthday looming I was keen to find a suitably “ethical” gift for her. I’d set a high bar at her third birthday with ribbon sticks all round. But a busy week saw the birthday weekend barrelling towards me with very little inspiration happening.
Late on the Friday night I had a light bulb moment and decided a terrarium would be perfect – a little “other” world that Miss E could stare into and imagine. I would have loved a terrarium when I was her age.
I’d seen locally made terrariums at nearby outlets and they fitted the “hand-made” criteria of my year of buying nothing new. On the Saturday, I headed out to track one down in time to take along to the Sunday family birthday gathering. Alas, not one terrarium was to be had in my neck of the woods. I even ventured a little further. Nothing. Well, nothing apart from the one I spied in a florist’s window for $80. Bejeezus! Two hand-craft consignment places told me they’d sold their last one that morning. Another said they hadn’t been able to stock them in months and another was vague. Very vague.
Great idea with (so far) a very poor execution. By Sunday morning, pressure was mounting. Something twigged in the back of my brain and I grabbed my craft ideas swipe file. (Everyone’s got one of those right?) And there it was, as fresh as the day I’d (not so ethically) photocopied it from a library edition of Peppermint magazine … a DIY Terrarium tutorial.
It was a slim chance but I headed to the local Sunday market where the gods of birthday gift-giving shone down on me. I found everything I needed. Every. Thing. Almost.
Then I just followed the instructions:
1. Fill the bottom of your jar with a layer of small stones or pebbles (I scooped these up in my front garden). Succulents don’t like to get their feet wet, so the pebbles will help with drainage.
2. Spoon in a layer of soil or potting mix. The soil needs to be thick enough to completely cover the roots and support your succulents. (I used the soil that came in the tiny succulent pots I purchased at the market.)
3. Use a spoon to create holes in the soil layer and position each succulent’s roots into a hole, with the tallest plant at the rear.
4. Add any cute little figurines or knick-knacks. (That wasn’t in the tutorial, but I think they’re a must-have for a five-year old. I added a cheerful tortoise and a little green cat. I also glued a vintage scrabble letter E to a bamboo skewer and stuck that right on in.)
I think the result is outstanding, (if I do say so myself). Miss E thought so, too.
And all for a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of that terrarium I spied in the florist’s window. And I even have some succulents and tiny dinosaur figurines left-over for another project. Win. Win. Win.
Caring for your terrarium: Your terrarium should need very little care as succulents are very hardy plants and well accustomed to arid environments. Succulents also like lots of light but, as it can get very hot and humid inside a terrarium, it is best to position them in indirect sunlight. Avoid rot by not over-watering. Only water when it is completely dry. A good mist with a spray bottle once a week should be plenty.