Anusha Babbar teaches people the art of creating terrariums, ideal for a world starved of green

Rema K. Giridhar has been peering into the sealed fishbowl by her window a little too often. She’s just back from the terrarium-making workshop organised by JustBooks library and Fun Square, and can’t wait to see new leaves on her plants.

Imagine creating your own micro eco-system at home using just a fish bowl, some plants, soil, charcoal and cling film. That’s what 28 people recently did at the workshop. Teaching them the art of creating a garden in a bottle was Anusha Babbar, an organic gardening specialist from Mumbai.

She taught participants what plants to choose (moneyplant, arrowhead, ferns…), planting techniques and how to add little touches (a bauble here, a doll house there) to create green art.

A unique environment

A terrarium is a transparent, air-tight, humid environment where plants thrive like they do in the rainforests, dependant on each other and getting nourishment from fallen leaves. This way, they slowly create an eco system of their own, without any external interference.

Though many say a terrarium is a great option for those who love plants but are lazy, Anusha says it’s wrong to promote it using the ‘no-maintenance’ tag. “It’s nice to talk to your plants and look after them. But yes, terrariums bring in the much-needed greenery in cramped spaces. They don’t need to be watered and just need to be turned so that all sides get the Sun,” she says.

Ideally, choose plants that thrive in light humidity conditions, she says. In the beginning, don’t attempt too much of colour; go in for shades of green. As you gain experience, experiment, says Anusha. A terrarium is not about a bunch of vibrant-coloured plants, she says. Like practitioners would say, it is about the joy of creating something that takes on a life of its own.

And, the possibilities are endless. Anusha, whose family runs the Green Grower nursery in Mumbai, once made a 2.5 ft by 1.5 ft terrarium with about 30 plants and even let some guppies float inside a fish tank there!

Rema will watch her cling film-sealed terrarium for a week to see how the plants have settled down. “Then, I intend making another one. It’s wonderful to put together.”

Terrariums also make for great gifting ideas, especially if you are giving them to someone who loves greenery. The best part is that you do not have to worry about the external weather, because the plants end up creating their own climate inside, says Anusha.

And, how long can a terrarium thrive? “Oh, they can outlive you!” laughs Anusha.

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