Tried + Tested
Maybe it’s the beautiful botanical creations that we see pop up in our Instagram feed. Or perhaps it’s the fact that doughnuts, hot chocolate and prosecco are often involved. But we have been loving the sound of the workshops taking place at Little Botanica’s Glasgow studio lately. So when the team invited us to come along to one of their Terrarium making classes, I jumped at the chance.
Situated in a railway arch in Tradeston, the Little Botanica studio is a warm and welcoming space filled with fairy lights and with the many rustic, sparkly and glam looking vessels they use for weddings stacked neatly on shelves around the workbenches.
Jenni introduces herself and offers me a glass of fizz but, having brought the car, I opt for water instead (don’t feel too sorry for me, I did celebrate Burns Night with a cheeky dram or two the night before).
We pop our aprons on and are given a brief history of the terrarium – it became popular in Victorian times after it was discovered that exotic plants could be brought to, and thrive in, the UK if housed in this way. Recently they have been making a comeback – just as they did in the 70s – and they are the perfect way to add a hip, yet low maintenance, hit of greenery to your home.
Elaina sets to work on her terrarium, demonstrating how to layer stones and cacti compost, before selecting plants to work with. She expertly begins to plant succulents, before setting to work on decorating it with moss, stones, slate, sticks, an architectural figure and a gold monkey (the only limit here is your imagination!
She is making it all look very easy, but I suspect that this may be down to her serious skills (have you seen their website lately – it’s full of incredible botanical creations!). I decide I should come clean at this point and admit that I have a disturbing history with succulents – no matter how hard I try, house plants seem to die when they come within a five metre radius of me. Aside, that is, from the obligatory student cheese plant that has chalked up an impressive 17 years in my custody – yes I am that old, and no I don’t know why the Jaegermeister incident didn’t kill it either. Even cacti, the supposedly easiest of plants to nurture, has no chance if I’m around.
But Elaina is very reassuring, and soon I am convinced that if I invest a pound or two in a spray bottle, keep it out of direct sunlight and spray it every 3-4 weeks (i.e. leave it the hell alone and stop overwatering it!), then even my terrarium will prosper.
And now the really fun bit begins and we set to work, loading up our glass cases with stones and compost. There’s something very relaxing about getting your hands dirty and I don’t even mind that the three coats of nail polish I applied that morning have already taken a major hit. As a rhythmic rumble heralds the central line passing overhead, and chilled tunes play in the background, we fall into a concentrated silence as we plant and fill. Sunday afternoons were surely made for this.
I am now glad that I have only had one coffee so far today, as having a steady hand defintely helps when it comes to the precision engineering of lowering succulents into place without knocking everything over. As I suspected, it is a little trickier than it looks and there’s a wobbly moment when my stick tree almost crashes to the ground, taking everything with it, but Elaina and Jenni are on hand to gently advise and help us (instinctively, they seemed to know that I should not be trusted with the glue gun).
What’s really interesting to see as the afternoon progresses is not only how good, but how different, each person’s terrarium looks. Jenni and Elaina tell us that they love seeing the ideas and stories that people come up with, and the little worlds that they create.
I finish my terrarium with a little gold sand to make the slate path I have built inside it pop. Then I set a little stick figure onto a branch on a tree, and build a moss den for a bear beneath it. Winter is coming to an end and he is emerging from hibernation, and sniffing the spring air, I decide. It’s a calming scene and nobody is gong to get eaten (my story, my rules).
As our terrariums are sprayed with water and securely packed for us to take home, we chat about how much we have enjoyed the class. One of the girls is thinking of coming back for her hen party, and trying another of the workshops on offer – perhaps making flower crowns (this is where the doughnuts come in, sugar lovers!).
I can’t really think of a better way to spend an afternoon with your best friends – hanging out, chatting, sipping fizz and creating something incredible that is yours to keep. Already I’m checking out the workshop schedule to see what else is coming up. How amazing does Couple’s Moss Graffitti and Eden Mill Gin Tasting, on Valentine’s Weekend, sound by the way?! I think I might be a little bit hooked… Christina x
Christina was a guest of Little Botanica and tried & tested their Terrarium Making Workshop (which costs £55) in Glasgow. You can find out more on their workshops here and gift vouchers are also available, if you’d like to treat someone special.
Images copyright of We Fell In Love