This week I got to do something unbelievably fun and rewarding – make a terrarium. As fate would have it, I was going to schedule a painting class when this event popped up on my Facebook. It wasn’t terribly convenient, but I was highly motivated to see what it would entail so I signed up. It brought me more joy than I ever imagined.
First, what is a terrarium? According to Wikipedia they are “usually sealable glass containers that can be opened for maintenance and to access the plants inside…Closed terrariums create a unique environment for plant growth, as the transparent walls allow for both heat and light to enter the terrarium. The sealed container combined with the heat entering the terrarium allows for the creation of a small scale water cycle. This happens because moisture from both the soil and plants evaporates in the elevated temperatures inside the terrarium. This water vapor then condenses on the walls of the container, and eventually falls back to the plants and soil below. This contributes to creating an ideal environment for growing plants due to the constant supply of water, thereby preventing the plants from becoming over dry. In addition to this, the light that passes through the transparent material of the terrarium allows for the plants within to photosynthesize, an important aspect of plant growth.”
We had all the “ingredients” laid out for us when we got there – the container, soil, rocks, charcoal, a choice of plants, and a selection of extras, like moss, stones and driftwood. Our knowledgeable instructor took us through step by step, and it was really quite easy. The fun part was placing the plants just so, then decorating with the extra stuff. When we had everything inside, our instructor came around to water them. I was grinning ear to ear (I think the other women at my table were thinking CRAZY GIRL HERE). I had my own piece of nature that I created, and I was overjoyed. Not only did I get to create, but I got to create with nature. It was a win-win.
There is a scientifically studied link between nature and happiness…
“Several particularly interesting studies were published recently in Environment and Behavior (link is external) by John Zelenski and Elizabeth Nisbet. Not surprisingly, the studies found that our emotional connections with nature are predictive of our attitudes and the choices we make about living sustainable lifestyles. But in addition, the study also found a unique connection between nature and happiness itself…They called the concept of how we emotionally connect to our natural world nature relatedness…The results of their research suggest that “nature relatedness has a distinct happiness benefit” beyond the more generalized benefit of feeling connected to family, friends, and home. Our connection to nature also correlated with most measures of human well-being, indicating it may play an extremely important role in maintaining positive mental health.”1
Now I didn’t really need to read a study on the connection because I choose to LIVE it. Every time I am outdoors, whether it is to walk from my car to the door of my work building, walk the dog, garden, remove weeds, doesn’t matter, I am noticing the nature around me. And what a perfect time in Cincinnati to view nature – Spring. The grass is greener, trees are flowering, plants are just appearing above the ground. Everywhere around is a bit of beautiful nature to admire and appreciate.
What if you don’t have a lot of green space where you live? Find a terrarium building class and make your own nature! My terrarium is now sitting front and center on my dining room table so I can enjoy nature on the inside of my house as well as outside. And being the true nature geek that I am, I almost want to hug the jar because I love it so. It is like having a little piece of the bottom of a forest in my home.
So I encourage you, especially with the weekend upon us (and in Cincinnati it is going to be GORGEOUS) to get out and explore nature. Go to a park, a waterfront, or heck, even walk around the block (maybe even pick up some trash!). Be present, LOOK for and at nature, and I can guarantee it will bring a smile to your face. And if you feel so inclined, give a tree a hug. The energy you feel will be amazing.
And with that I think it is time to check out my terrarium for the millionth time – I know I will never get tired of it.