On Wednesday, March 8, 16 of us met at Veldkamp’s Flowers for a terrarium workshop. We were treated to a tour of the facility and what an operation it is! We got an education on the origins of the terrariums, which were called Wardian cases because the original terrarium was invented by an English botanist, Dr. Nathaniel Ward, in 1842. The air quality in 19th century East London was very poor due to the soot and smoke from the local factories. He accidentally made the discovery when he placed a moth, some mold spurs, and some ferns in a glass jar to study. He noticed after a week that the moisture within the jar would evaporate during the day and when temps in the evening cooled, condensation would occur, creating its own mini ecosystem. The Wardian case facilitated the trade of plants worldwide. By allowing the transport of goods like fruit and flowers, along with cash crops like coffee and sugar, the glass terrarium changed food, botany, and commerce in the industrial era.
We learned from Veldkamp’s employee, Morgan, who demonstrated the whole process and led us in the do’s and don’ts of creating our own terrarium. Martha V. had us all set up with gloves, rock, moss, charcoal, and soil for layering and plenty of plant materials for building our own mini ecosystems.
This was a very successful outing thanks to Martha and her crew!
-Story and photos by Ann E.