52 Ways to Be Creative, Week 2: The Natural Magic of Terrarium Building

About 52 Ways to Be Creative: Each week of 2019, I will take a course or take part in peer-to-peer learning related to art and all things creative. I’ll refresh a few forgotten skills, stretch into new areas, and share my experiences. You are welcome to join in. Message me and use the hashtag #52WaysToBeCreative if you do.

For week 2 of 52 Ways to Be Creative I took a turn building a terrarium with the Botanical Boys of East London.


  • Building a terrarium is a lovely and low-intensity way to get in touch with nature

  • After learning about the basic layering technique, and taking note of the the recommended soil and suggested plants, I feel confident I can build a terrarium on my own

  • The Botanical Boys host corporate workshops for teams, enhancing wellness in the office



  • £40.00

  • Included all supplies and a glass of Prosecco

Ready to get my hands dirty

Ready to get my hands dirty

Work in progress — a few nerve plants are placed in the jar

Work in progress — a few nerve plants are placed in the jar

About My Experience

The experience was hosted by Ben and Daz at their home in East London. The workshop space was filled with beautifully constructed terrariums they’ve created since starting their business in 2016.

Daz started by giving a brief history of the terrarium, noting the first terrariums dated from Victorian times.

The first terrarium was developed by botanist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1842. Ward had an interest in observing insect behaviour and accidentally left one of the jars unattended. A fern spore in the jar grew, germinated into a plant, and this jar resulted in the first terrarium. The trend quickly spread in the Victorian Era amongst the English. Instead of the terrarium, it was known as the Wardian case.

Terrarium, Wikipedia

I put on my provided apron and got ready to get my hands dirty.

We started by layering porous stones, activated charcoal, and fibrous moss into our glass jars. Daz suggested we smell the moss as we pulled it apart. Its earthy smell reminded me of a misty forest in the morning.

Large bowls of dark soil were set out in the centre of the table. Daz told us to use our bare hands to massage out any lumps. We scooped the soil into the jars, filling them to about half-way.

We were taken though a little step-by-step lesson on how to use large tweezers to place a single nerve plant into the soil. From there we were free to add additional plants until we were happy with the composition.

We were introduced to wedges of brilliant green moss and given free rein of bins of stones to complete our jars. I tore a piece of the moss and squeezed out the excess water, wringing it like a soft sponge. I placed it onto the soil and massaged it into its place beside the plants.

I am so happy with my terrarium. It sits in my living room, little beads of condensation collecting on the inside of the glass.

The completed terrarium at home

The completed terrarium at home

I hope you enjoyed this post. Read about other weeks, and look out for week 3 of 52 Ways to Be Creative.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Feel free to get in touch.