Once again, the children have demonstrated that the most precious projects can be made with nature’s help.
Victorian Era Wardian Cases or terrariums make beautiful home accents and creative gifts. But first, one must enjoy a hike in the woods and seek the oldest growth about – not the Redwood Trees, but the soft mosses and spiky ferns nestled in the shadows of the forests.
1. Have ready a glass jar or vase (reuse opportunity!).
2. Layer first pebbles and/or sand (we had some colored varieties, thanks again to Marin Freecycle).
3. Next, layer a bit charcoal, only if you plan to keep jar covered (this helps with moisture control).
4. Add layer of sphagnum moss (Spanish moss) – this helps keep the soil above in place.
5. Add potting soil (not soil from forest unless you want some crawling “pets”).
6. Finally, add layers of found moss, a small fern or fiddlehead (baby fern in an artful spiral!), shells, lichen or any other beautiful objects you’d like.
7. Mist with water every few days. You can also keep the lid on the jar to help with water retention and humidity. However, we chose not to do this.
Our daughter has been studying ferns, as well. So far, she’s identified Goldback, Maidenhair and Sword ferns. Some found fronds are being pressed for future art projects, and this summer she’ll surely try propagating ferns using the spores.
Also in the summer and fall when the Goldback fern spores on the underside of the leaf are mature and golden, we like making fern prints by pushing the underside of the leaf (side with the spores) onto our clothes – we’re often quite decorated at the end of a day’s hike!
A report on Plants That Never Ever Bloom by Ruth Heller will wrap up the language arts for this segment of home studies. The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock is a fantastic resource for more projects and studies (mind you, this book was originally published a century ago!).
And, finally, wrap a ribbon around your homemade Wardian Case for a finishing, personal touch. Voila!