The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

Project: Indoor Garden Shelf

3 Comments

Although I have a window in my small studio/home office, I do not have a view – except into my neighbor’s window. I usually keep white, honeycomb shades drawn for privacy. I do, however, have wonderful light as it faces Southeast, and this wonderful light filters through the shades. Better light is definitely what my declining orchid collection needs. I have a mix of Paphiopedilum or Lady Slipper, Phalaenopsis or Moth, Cattleya and Dendrobium orchids. Some of these I’ve cared for (and neglected) for nearly ten years.

In addition to my orchid trials, I now have terrarium fever. I really want to create and tend to some mossy, woodsy, miniature indoor gardens.

Another factor at play here is that I want to revamp my studio/office so that it’s more inspiring to work in. Since I love to garden and love the woods, I thought maybe I could bring these elements into my work space and they could nurture my nature year round.

I put up a shelf along the width of the window just about eye level so that I could create my own view. On this shelf is, initially where all my orchids and new attempt at terrariums will reside. More shelving will continue along the walls above my desk area for a better, roomier, display and to incorporate my woodland finds which I’ll save for another time.

I sifted through what I already owned for some creative glass containers, although I will need to purchase some very tall ones for my Slipper Orchids in the near future. Here a pub glass makes a mini cloche.

When we moved here a nice collection of old mason jars was left behind in our cellar. I kept them thinking that I would do something with them at some point. I have a collection of sea shells in some glass jars that my grandmother owned. I swapped the shells into the mason jars so I could use my grandmother’s glass jars for planting. Some of the shells I used in my new containers. Some shells mimic large shelf fungus found in the woods, some are purely decorative.

I was inspired to do this project after receiving The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin as a Christmas gift. This book contains many creative ideas. Using this book as a guide, I purchased a soil made for terrariums called plantation soil. It is a soil made from compressed coconut husk fibre that comes in bricks. I placed a brick in a bucket, added water and voila, big bucket of beautiful soil substrate! In each container, I layered charcoal, pebbles and soil. The pebbles allow for good drainage and the charcoal filters the water, keeps things sweet, and prevents stagnation and fungi. I also enclosed potted plants in glass. Some of my new plantings are open at the top but because the plants are still enclosed in glass, humidity levels are elevated. My orchids are very dry here in spite of misting. A boost of humidity should also help them thrive. I excavated a little moss from my property as a top dressing.

1. Potted orchid in large glass vase with sea shell base.
2. Shells mimicking shelf fungus found in woods.
Miniature Buddha rock garden on my desk.

In Maine my orchids bloomed every Winter without fail. Here in NY, they have bloomed once or twice but have clearly declined. Some of them still remain in their pots. I will closely monitor those in terrarium-like containers. I am hoping this new spot will make them bloomin’ happy once again. I also hope to create some terrariums with other types of plantings and more miniature scenes. This shelf is now a garden surround to ground me while working and lift my spirits while creating. I can’t wait to continue it along the other two walls. Glass sun catchers add to my new garden. How about you? Is there a place where you, too, can create your own view? Bring the garden indoors?

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Author: Kathy Sturr

Cultivating art, growing soul, and creating plant-based food in the beautiful 1000 Islands, New York and Cedar Key, Old Florida.

3 thoughts on “Project: Indoor Garden Shelf

  1. Great post. Great writing. I have not had luck with orchids. What is your secret?

  2. It is funny, but my orchids have not bloomed this winter either. The outside weather seems to have them confused. Only one is producing a flower. I use jars like you do too with shells, rocks, glass, and odds and ends. I like your use for the plants too. That is a great use of creativity and fun. It does perk up an office space and give loads of interest. I need to get some time to make my office more inspiring. Work gets crazy and the office looks like a tornado went through.

  3. I love your glass containers and plantings…I have wanted to do a few but just haven't gotten around to it…love your view…I have plants in my office at work to create a lovely view…

Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden!

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