Now that summer is just around the corner, it’s finally the time of the year to spend your weekend visiting markets to discover local creatives and original independent retailers from East London. Last weekend, Old Spitalfields Market teamed up with Green Rooms Market to create an ode to everything botanical. Over two days, the market transformed into an urban jungle with The Green Rooms’ signature pop-up market, workshops, talks and stalls.
My partner and I had the opportunity to join London Terrarium’s workshop on Sunday. Up on the mezzanine overlooking the market, we learned everything we needed to know about terrariums and how to make them.
Terrariums are like a miniature garden in a jar or bottle. Those little ecosystems are self-sustaining, as the plants water themselves through condensation and transpiration. So, it’s perfect for people who don’t have a green thumb and tend to kill their beloved plants (something I know pretty well).
When we arrived at the workshop’s location, we were welcomed by a lovely member of the London Terrariums and taken to our table. Everything was already prepared with jars, tools, soil and different plants. But before we started making our own little ecosystems, we got to know more about the exciting history of the terrarium.
Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, an English botanist, discovered the terrarium in 1842 by accident. He noticed that the plants in the sealed glass jar where he was raising moth pupa were thriving. In further experiments, he exported native British plants to Sydney in a similar closed environment that was well and thriving even after a month of travel.
Then our instructor demonstrated how to assemble the terrarium, and it was time to start. The process of building the terrarium, from putting in the stones and compost to arranging the plants, has something extremely therapeutic. Not only is it relaxing and creative challenging, but you are also creating a little personal world that looks however you like. Working creatively with natural materials is good for your mental health and I noticed that during that 90-minute workshop, I felt at peace. After my stressful 50 hours working week, that was precisely what I needed, and it helped take my mind off things. Even now, my terrarium gives me joy, and it’s exciting to see it change daily.
Afterwards, we had a look at the other Green Rooms stalls, presenting their beautifully painted plant pots and avocado vases. It’s truly amazing what people create. Strolling through the botanical market and making a terrarium was an enjoyable and relaxing weekend activity to slow down and switch off – something we don’t do enough.
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