Everywhere I look these days I see those small glass terrariums featuring mosses mixed with lichens on remnants of bark or sticks. Some hang in store windows while others exist in fictitious internet lands where they sit on pristine, completely white desks where absolutely no real work ever happens. Unique, small, green, little living worlds – a reminder of what I’d rather be paying attention to rather than any of the work on my desk. They soothe the angst-ridden mind.
Growing up in dry Southern California, moss was something I only saw on PBS documentaries, so I am particularly drawn to the allure these terrariums offer. Whenever I see one when I’m out and about I stop and stare at them, inspecting their individual intricacies. Even the video rental store near my house sells them – “We’re out of Mad Men Season 4 dvds, but we have moss in a hanging globe. Want that instead?” My answer would be “Yes, please!” if these little balls of joy weren’t so darn expensive. Yes, you are buying living art and there’s always a price to pay for someone’s design aesthetic, but I have a hard time paying for something that I feel I can easily do myself. So I will…and you can, too!
Depending on where you live, you can most likely acquire some kind of small green life form or something reminiscent of one while on a hike out in nature. In areas that receive a lot of moisture, you should be able to find some kind of moss, lichen, or liverwort. You can go for succulents if you live in more desert-like conditions (or go to the local nursery if you can’t find any out and about). On my recent road trip from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon, I imagined I would pick up some moss in a redwood grove near the foggy mists of the Oregon coast. It was very romantic in my mind. Instead I found some in the grass at rest stop just outside of Eugene. The dog needed to go take care of some business and I found a dead twig covered in dried moss and a few lichens in the grass along the way. The moss was dark and looked dead, but the lichens were pretty so I picked it up. Again, being from SoCal, I don’t know much about moss, so I was pleasantly surprised when the moss came alive and green after getting it wet. (I have a lot to learn! Anyone have any recommendations for helping me catch up on my bryology?)
I have not yet purchased a glass globe or a nice enough jar to put it in, but I do recommend getting one if you are going to make your own moss terrarium. Right now, mine is sitting in a small dish (as you can see above) and the exposure causes it to dry out rather quickly. I give mine a quick soak every so often, but an even mist from a spray bottle works well, too.
If you want to make your own terrarium but don’t know where to find supplies or plant materials, you can take a terrarium class or just find what you need at many independent plant nurseries/retailers. The San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers offers a terrarium building class as does Sloat Garden Center (both are approximately $35 each). Or better yet, you can visit Flora Grubb Gardens and build your own at their “terrarium bar.” Just grab one of the many hand-blown glass containers and choose from an assortment of branch pieces, lichens, and air plants to create your own custom soil-less terrarium. (They also have them pre-made there, too, if you don’t trust your creative instincts).
Or you can just say screw it and just buy an already made terrarium. Mosser offers a really cool, yet pricey, ball of moss in a jar for $36. It’s moss in a jar. Very simple in concept and design, but amazing in so many ways. http://www.mosserstore.com/
I’ll admit it, I’ve been tempted to pick up one of these extravagancies for my desk at work…my non-white desk with non-white accessories on it…but the moss just won’t have the presence it does here in this picture with the white background and simple, elegant glass container and label.
So yeah, you can make that!….or buy that!….and definitely, you can grow that!
On the fourth day of each month, garden bloggers everywhere are coming together to post about what you can grow. Posts will be about anything from growing hops for your home brew to growing your own wedding bouquet. To see others, check out the You Can Grow That! Facebook Page. Soon the name will be changing, though. More on that can be found at C.L. Fornari’s blog.