Friday, 6 June 2014

The Terrarium Phoenix

It started with a large, empty terrarium.  It was found at my late Uncle’s house, in his garden I believe, and everyone in the family wanted it for their own wants and needs.

One cousin said it would look great with her collection of rubber bands and paper clips.

Another cousin said it would look great filled with coloured stones sitting on a coffee table.

My Aunty wanted to do it up as it used to be… but she never found the time or space in her home to have it sitting in the right place without her ex-husband walking around acting like a bull in a china shop (and I mean he actually would knock it over just to piss her off).

Then my folks took it home.  It sat at the bottom of their back steps for over two years, all grubby, all dirty, filled with bird shit with the original cork sitting sideways in it… it was obvious they weren’t going to use it anytime soon.  So, my brother and his girlfriend offered to take it home; but never did. 

Me?  I kept walking by it saying it would look great in my home – seeing I had a 1970’s vibe going, and this terrarium would pull it all together – but my folks said my brother wanted it. 

So, I left it alone… and kept on looking at it every time I walked past it when I visited.

Then, the day came!  Mum and Dad offered it to me.  They said my brother didn’t want it anymore, and I had the damned thing in my car faster than you could fart!

Well, once I got it home, I put it on the coffee table, and it lived there for two weeks!

Two weeks!

Before I got my arse into gear and did some serious research on just what made a terrarium work its jungle magic in that special way where I put it together and it took care of itself… and you know, it didn’t take me long to find a place around Brisbane where they fitted terrariums.  And just last week, I was off in my Little Green Machine (aka: my car) to the other side of town using the GPS to find the place and get the cork for it.  It was fantastic!  I met the lady, also had a terrarium, and she showed me hers; which was heading towards 40 years old and it still had the same plants in it that she had put into it all those years ago.  How cool is that?

Well, that afternoon, I was off to Bunnings (a huge gardening store here) and I found all the elements that were going to make my empty, sad-looking terrarium live again.

When I got home, I unpacked the car, washed out the terrarium with dishwashing liquid and wiped it out.  Then, following the instructions I wrote out from the net, I put in the gorgeous stones I had bought, put in charcoal, sphagnum moss and then the potting mix! 

What a mess I made!  But it was so much fun!

The plants were next… and they were gorgeous little leafy things and looked like plastic, but I love putting them in.  And then?  It was time to decorate.  I found the stuff I had bought for the fishies when I had them last year or so, scrubbed them with a toothbrush until the colour was back on them, and rinsed them off.  Then, I found some shells, stones and a large shell I had bought down the coast at Brunswick Heads.  I spent around two hours working and working how everything was going to look before getting the spray bottle and misting it all to start the process of being its own ecosystem. 

I couldn’t stop looking at it last night.  I had put in a shipwreck inside the bottle and the whole thing looks like it’s in its own little world. 

But I have found I have brought the bottle back to life in a way… it was a live way back in the 1960’s and 1970’s in my Uncle Allan’s time, it died when he put it outside into his garden and had been lying dormant for all this time…

Lying there waiting for somebody to help it,

… assist it …

…bring it back to life, just as a Phoenix never dies, neither does a terrarium.  It may lay dormant, but it doesn’t really die.