MES­SAGE IN BOT­TLE

The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

The idea of mov­ing eco­nom­i­cal crops around the world by the likes of botan­i­cal ad­ven­tur­ers, Banks, Solan­der, Cook and Bligh was al­ways fa­cil­i­tated by lit­tle (or large) or­nate Ge­or­gian glass cases.

It could have been okra bound for Kew or Cap­tain Bligh’s neme­sis bread­fruit from the Caribbean headed to Kew and on to other places in the colony to feed slaves. Or a rare col­lectable for m’lord’s es­tate col­lec­tion.

The Em­press Josephine Bon­a­parte was said to have had the world’s best col­lec­tion of roses. She snaf­fled many of these by hi­jack­ing ships re­turn­ing to Europe (mostly Bri­tish) laden with glass cases of struck roses from China and the East and pi­rated the ship while at it.

Glass ter­rar­i­ums are a thing of evo­lu­tion from these glass cases. The orig­i­nals were sealed but had breath­ing spa­ces and a lit­tle soil, char­coal and maybe some light sphag­num moss for their jour­neys. They were then placed in a larger dis­play case that al­lowed mea­sured light in at dif­fer­ent times of the day or ar­ti­fi­cial can­dle light by night.

The more re­cent ter­rar­i­ums are a bit like gar­den fads that came and went and were also at­tached to the macrame era of hang­ing a glass gar­den in a bot­tle with coloured sisal.

The ter­rar­ium is com­ing back into vogue as our liv­ing spa­ces are re­duced and we rely on other items like smaller in­door plants for dec­o­ra­tion.

The Bi­cen­te­nary of the US in 1976 saw an ex­plo­sion in larger blown glass demi john and large size bot­tles for the pur­pose of in­sert­ing a ship. How­ever the ter­rar­ium en­thu­si­asts cot­toned on and set them up for some stun­ning dis­plays.

Up­right, side on, didn’t mat­ter. The base still needed a layer of fine gravel, fol­lowed by a light cov­er­ing of char­coal, fol­lowed again by a small layer of soil and then planted with tweez­ers or in some way to get into the neck of the bot­tle that would have ev­ery­one won­der­ing how you did it.

Small seedling ferns, nean­the­bella palms, peper­o­mia, dwarf Spathiphyl­lum, pilea, and many other soft tis­sue pants that can stand some mois­ture, light and shade will al­ways make a nice gar­den un­der glass.

Seal­ing the ter­rar­ium is op­tional. But if open, it needs a mist­ing spray oc­ca­sion­ally. Sealed bot­tles should not be in the sun and need to be mon­i­tored for how much con­den­sa­tion they pro­duce. So, big bot­tles are back in and if you need some stim­u­lus check out In­sta­gram and The Botanic Boys in the UK.

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