Review & Giveaway: Terrariums – Gardens under Glass

There’s a definite appeal to indoor gardening at this time of the year, and although I have never had much success with house plants, I would really like to have more plants in my home, so I was intrigued by this fascinating book, Terrariums: Gardens Under Glass, published by Cool Springs Press.

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The author, Maria Colletti has been teaching people how to make terrariums since 2010, and you can tell from her writing – her enthusiasm and encouraging style – that she is a great teacher. One of those teachers who makes you feel confident about stepping out and having a go by yourself without fear of failure.

Although terrariums aren’t a new thing – their history dates back to the Victorian period – they are incredibly on trend just at the moment – a quick search on Pinterest pulls up 1000s of results from the reasonably simple to the more complex – and all of them are inspiring. It makes sense to me that they are so fashionable right now – they come in so many different styles, from the incredibly cute, tiny fairy garden terrariums, to the fascinating-tropical-rainforest in miniature lidded terrariums, to the uber-sophisticated Japanese-style moss garden, there is a terrarium that fits in with any style of décor.  I loved some of the very achievable simple designs that Colletti shares – how wonderful would something like this be as a Christmas gift?

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With chapters on the basic tools and ingredients, terrarium vessels, how to get started, what kind of plants to use, and a maintenance and trouble-shooting guide – this is a very comprehensive guide. I really enjoyed the sections on the different plants that are suitable for terrariums (given the right kind of vessel – which is also explained in detail). If you are fan of succulents and cacti, ferns and tropical plants, you will love all these ideas, which show them at their best.

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The step by step section includes a variety of different projects using very different plants, so if one design doesn’t appeal, you are bound to find something else instead. I really liked the friendly, chatty and down to earth style of the writing.

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Inspired by the pictures I felt, as a total beginner, that I could definitely have a go, especially as it was pretty straightforward to get hold of the bits and bobs I needed. Ebay is a good source of suitable plants, and I got everything else from my local Homebase DIY store, including the pretty glass bowl.  Here’s my first attempt, which I am rather proud of.

terrarium 1
I really liked the contrast between the stony dry look of my terrarium with the colours of the very wet autumn day outside. The plants I used are Howarthia Coartica (at the front) and Peperomia Hope (at the back). The pebbles are just standard 10mm gravel (well washed and dried) and the larger stones are from my garden (also well washed).

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Hidden amongst the pebbles are the root balls of the plants, surrounded by a little potting compost. There is a layer of paper, also hidden by the pebbles, about halfway up the bowl, so that the soil wont be washed down to the bottom of the bowl. I was inspired by the simpler designs in the book, but there’s plenty more to have a go at, using wonderful mosses, and layers of sand and different kinds of pebbles – you really have the opportunity to let your imagination run free, once you’ve got the hang of the basics.

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It was such an enjoyable experience, and only took an hour or so to do (and most of that time was washing and drying the pebbles…) – I could get quite into this. I shall be interested to see if I can manage to get my first terrarium to survive successfully – fortunately there are maintenance and troubleshooting sections in the book!


I have a copy of this lovely book to give away – so if you would like to have a go yourself, do leave a comment before lunchtime (1pm GMT) on Wednesday and I will draw names out of the hat. I’m happy to post overseas – so don’t let that stop you!

If you can’t wait that long: To order Terrariums at the discounted price of £12.99 including p&p* (RRP: £15.99), telephone 01903 828503 or email and quote the offer code APG374. *UK ONLY – Please add £2.50 if ordering from overseas.

27 thoughts on “Review & Giveaway: Terrariums – Gardens under Glass

  1. This looks fascinating – and I have a failing bottle garden that I was given that needs to be revived. This will definitely show me how!

  2. This books look wonderful – would love to be in with a chance of winning it! The bowl you have made up looks great. We had succulents growing everywhere in NZ so this was a really easy thing to do … not so much in Stratford!

  3. Making a terrarium has been on my to-do list for about 2 years now! My dad did this when I was a kid, so I am feeling very nostalgic now. This book looks like a great place for me to start

  4. This book looks great! Indoor plants never fail to cheer me up, especially now we´re getting to that cosy time of year when we spend more time indoors. Count me in!

  5. I can’t really manage an outdoor garden nowadays but would love to have a go at these. I think I would have to resist overwatering though. It’s a different way of growing than my usual pot plants.

  6. Hi, as usual an interesting post. Enjoyed reading about your terrarium so much that I will be heading to the garden centre first thing tomorrow morning!

  7. My kids have a little cacti collection going, so maybe a terrarium is the way forward. Yours, and the ones in the book, look great.

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