Monday, December 31, 2012

Moss for the Winter

Winter has really come in here-- we have six inches of snow on the ground, so the only moss I'll be checking out is growing in a big container on my windowsill. I'm actively hunting for some new containers...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Finished Terrarium

Because I'm just that great, and was in such a horrible rush to get these assembled, of the five terrariums I made, I remembered to of them. At least it was the largest and the most interesting.

This is a tall apothecary jar with a lid. I layered activated charcoal, gravel, and high-drainage soil in the jar. The tree is a brush cherry, an indoor tree that can tolerate less than full sunlight. Since I bought it as bonsai stock, I had to remove it from its container, loosen the old soil from the roots, and trim the branches and leaves. Once that was complete, in it went!

On the right side of the jar you can see a strawberry begonia, a recommended plant for terrariums.

I admit, it's not the nicest thing to give an experiment to someone as a gift, but I have high hopes for this one, and it went to a family member that adores plants. The instructions that went along with it included leaving the lid off the jar during the day so that no mold develops. Hopefully that will help to keep the tree looking good.
It belongs to a family member that I visit often, so I should be able to keep track of it and give it any treatment I needs if this doesn't work out.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Terrariums in progress...

In typical fashion, I procrastinated and found myself scrambling to finish the terrariums the night before they needed to be packed up for holiday travel.

I was running around trying to find something interesting. I tried all of the local craft stores and didn't like the quality for larger glass. I did pick up the three cubish containers at Michael's. I had hoped to use vintage glass, but struck out at the local thrift and antique stores. That doesn't come as a huge surprise, I can't be the only one using vintage glass for Christmas.

It was surprising to find what I was looking for at TJ Maxx, of all places. I was there with a friend looking for some other things and found some fantastic jars well suited to terrarium building, with the look I wanted. Hooray!

Largest of the jars. Currently has a layer of activated charcoal, a layer of gravel, and a layer of Bonsai West's bonsai soil.

The other four jars. One tall rectangle, two cubes, and a small apothecary jar.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Visit to the Bonsai Nursery

I went out to Bonsai West to take some bad photos of their stock bonsai plants and pick up some more items for the terrariums. I can't say enough good things about this place.

They're a specialized bonsai nursery, and the staff has never been anything but friendly. It's spectacular to go there during the spring and summer when all of the greenhouses are open and the bonsai are out in the garden, but a fun trip even in the winter. The greenhouses are nice and warm, and filled with tropical/indoor bonsai.

I didn't end up finding a number of the plants I was looking for, but came away with a few things- a white rabbit's foot fern (that did not go into a terrarium), a strawberry begonia, a plant labeled senecio that is definitely not a senecio, but some sort of succulent, a rabbit's foot fern, a brush cherry, and a dwarf orange myrtle.

Stock plants-- rabbit's foot ferns.

More stock plants-- some jade on the bottom, palms on the upper left, and ficus on the upper right. Doesn't do their greenhouses justice.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Moss "Forcing"

The big problem with collecting discarded moss, as it turns out is that, well, it was November in New England when I picked it up. We had already had several frosts, and the moss had gone dormant for the winter.

Thankfully, moss is incredibly tolerant. As in, you can dry it out completely, grind it up, spread it on a growth medium, and still grow new moss. I didn't pick anything nearly that extreme.

Since I was just trying to get the ball rolling and prepare it to go into the Christmas terrariums, I elected to use sunlight, warmth, and water. All of the moss I collected still had some dirt attached, so no need to add any dirt. I also didn't think if be growing it indoors long enough for it to be able to spread (although that's going to be my next project).

If I was planning on growing these indoors any longer than a couple of weeks, I would have grown them on something. As a temporary measure, to rehydrate it, I spread all of the moss in a plastic container. I detest plastic wrap, so I just used the lid to cover it.

During the day, it sits on a table in a room with one north facing window and one west facing one. I leave it uncovered so that it can get indirect light. I cover it at night to keep the water in.

I think things have been going pretty well. At first, I totally overwatered it, which was not good-- the container has poor drainage and I was starting to see a little bit of mold. Now it's doing quite a bit better-- I even have some new pale green growth on the rock cap moss.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getting Started

I'm Alison, I love green things and plants. In the past I've cultivated bonsai, a large collection of succulents, and various other plants. Thanks to a personal disaster, my toddler and I are now living in a new apartment, minus my plant collection, so I thought it would be fun to document my plants as I try to make some gifts and green up my space.

This year, I'm making terrariums as Christmas gifts. The motivation comes from having a strange (though amazing) family, a toddler, and not a lot of money on hand.

When it comes to Christmas, my extended family is pretty great. There aren't really many expectations about gifts, and it's all about showing up. That said, everyone really prefers handmade gifts. A great fit for me, because I love to make things. The most widely appreciated and longest lasting gift I made was a set of cactus bowls. Most of them are still alive and thriving.

With that in mind, I decided to go one step further this year and make terrariums. The plan is to include moss, some moisture-tolerant small plants, and some tropical trees from the local bonsai nursery (yes, you can be jealous now, I have a local bonsai nursery).

The best part is, my little one can help out, to an extent. She helps me water the moss, and really enjoys "petting" it, feeling the different textures!

I have three kinds of moss right now- collected when the landscapers at work came to tear it up.

I've been trying to coax it out of dormancy.I am fairly certain I have hypnum, haircap, and rock cap.

This is (likely) Rock Cap at the top in a couple of clumps, hypnum in the lower left, and threadcap in the lower right. The dehydrated nature of the moss, which was dormant when I collected it, makes it a little more challenging to tell.

Close up of the (probably) hypnum moss.
A couple of good resources-- Garden Design has a nice Moss Guide.
Looking at pictures at Moss Acres helped me get a vague idea of what I might have for moss. They also sell moss if you want some of your own.