The Ultimate Tiny Garden


Terrarium gift to my ‘green thumbed buddy’

No room for a garden, you say?

Well,  maybe that’s because you haven’t seen the ultimate tiny garden – the terrarium.

I was inspired to write about terrariums after a blogging friend Stephanae, of Bold Blind Beauty told me she wasn’t much of a gardener, although after reading my post on waterlilies she felt compelled to give gardening a go.

Like most things, terrariums have been subject to fickle fashion. Years ago, everyone had one and then they lost favour only to be resurrected again recently. Back then, my mother successfully turned an old fish tank into a lush and much admired terrarium, complete with tiny terrapins – miniature turtles – with a little pond up one end. This arrangement is more correctly called a ‘vivarium’ because it contains animals. Now my daughter has (re) discovered the idea and has terrariums in abundance.

Perhaps you have an old fish bowl hanging around in the cupboard, or even a clam shell or two. But even if you have none of those things to hand, they’re readily available at local ‘cheap’ variety stores. In fact, many of these stores carry glass bowls specifically purposed for terrariums. Others can be created in jars, brandy balloons or old glass vases. Our local hardware/nursery sells miniature ferns and ground covers, ideal for planting up in terrariums.

The process of making your own terrarium couldn’t be simpler, and the maintenance equally so. Begin by placing a layer of stones or small shells in the bottom of your chosen container. Some people add some activated charcoal at this point, but so far I’ve not bothered. Top with a layer of good quality potting mix. Press ferns or mosses down firmly into the mix, keeping in mind the proportion of plant size to container size. Arrange damp sphagnum around the plants and fill with water to soak well and bed the plants in. Drain off the water. Clean up the glass with some paper towel.

Stand back to admire your handiwork, then watch it grow!


Terrarium with various ferns, sedum and ‘Old Man’s Beard’ draped over the side

You’ll find the terrarium will create its own humid micro climate and so will need only infrequent watering. The sphagnum moss is a good indicator of moisture level. As long as it’s damp, the ferns will be hydrated. Just repeat the watering exercise described above if it’s looking a little dry, making sure to drain off the excess. In the climate where I live, once every couple of weeks seems to be enough.

Recently, I re-purposed some clam shells by planting them up with ferns. They’re not strictly terrariums as such because they’re not enclosed but the effect is equally pleasing.

When I ponder terrariums, I realise in this  context, size has little to do with magnitude. There is a magnitude of enjoyment in giving pleasure to others.

Small gifts can say big things.

Then there is the magnitude of gratification that comes with using one’s imagination to create something physically small but which, in terms of satisfaction, is much larger.

“Embrace the power of little things and you will build a tower of mighty things. Mighty things are made up varieties of little things put together!”
Israelmore Ayivor, Daily Drive 365


I will be travelling next week so I won’t be posting. However, there will be tales to tell on my return.



Useful resources:





44 responses to “The Ultimate Tiny Garden

      • Yes, it seems to be quite energy- sapping. We had an unbelievably hot and humid summer last year and I didn’t get much gardening done. I’m one for creature comforts and we had an air-conditioning unit put in in June. This attitude does not bode well for future hot summers and my gardens may just take over the yard.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It used to be that living in the woods, with all the shade from the trees, we didn’t need an air conditioner. But the last few summers have been oppressive, so after almost 70 years without, I gave in.
        I, too, am a big fan of Autumn. It is truly a grand season here in New England and I’m sure it is the same in your Tiny Garden. It’s Monday morning here and we are getting ready for some snow this week. I will spend the time indoors writing and reading, so it will not bother me at all. Unless we lose our electricity. That will be another thing altogether! Take care and stay cool.🌦 Clare

        Liked by 1 person

      • The day you have planned sounds blissful, Clare. One question: will there be hot chocolate? 😋. Writing and reading is somehow better in cold weather. I can picture you at your desk pausing to watch a gentle flurry of snowflakes outside your window.
        I, on the other hand, am stretched out on the bed having woken, not at all refreshed, from a hot and restless night. Enjoy your day!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I used to do this when I was a kid, used large bottles and jars. But here in the UK we stopper the neck of the container so that the plants water themselves from the condensation for weeks. Have you tried that?
    I seem to remember reading somewhere that you can grow veggies this way too, but I haven’t tried it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do recall my mother having a huge bottle which she made into a terrarium. I can’t recall if it had a stopper or just a very narrow neck. It stood quite tall and was an inverted balloon shape. Thanks for reminding me. I will have to look out for the right shape and give it a try.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Timi, I’m touched by your kindness. It’s always a delight and surprise when people enjoy what we write. I’m glad to have found your blog too. You have such amazing interests and I’ve learnt a great deal. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Gail. I love the idea even though it’s not a new one. One of the other bloggers remembers creating terrariums when she was a child. They used stoppered bottles so that the condensation would keep the plants watered. There are many different versions.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.