lifestyle

The Green Capsule: A terrarium workshop that also taught me empathy

Last Updated: January 22, 2021

Written by Ping Er

I’ve always wondered about the sedate and self-sufficient quality of terrariums. Even more perplexing, though, is their appeal. How are people so ceaselessly fascinated by a jar of plants that barely move? 

My mother recently joined the community of terrarium enthusiasts, and as inexplicable as this hobby is to me, I’m trying to understand its appeal. So, in a bid to be a supportive daughter, I took a Close Terrarium Workshop (S$38) to learn about terrarium building at The Green Capsule.

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The Green Capsule specialises in terrariums and urban gardening, offering customers ready-made terrariums, plants, DIY kits, and workshops. With friendly and well-informed staff and a welcoming space, they were an ideal place to start my terrarium journey.

Though a little wary of ardent plant mommies at the workshop, I did look forward to bringing home something to please my mother. After all, her terrariums have replaced me in the hierarchy of maternal favour. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Building the foundations

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I joined Amirul and Natasha at The Green Capsule’s Great World City outlet for my first terrarium building experience. To get me started, they had me pick a figurine to star in my end product.

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Look at Martin grazing the field of my palm. We’re bonding.

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The terrarium starts with a drainage layer. There are natural and man-made options for this, though they leave it up to you to choose which types to use. You can opt for a single type or use a combination, depending on your preferences. 

From the get-go, I felt encouraged to be creative to build the terrarium that I wanted to see. 

When my drainage layer was about as thick as my forefinger’s width, I began to add soil. Natasha explained that as we were using tropical plants for the terrarium, potting soil was more suitable.

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After patting down the soil to make it compact, she instructed me to pick the front of my terrarium. This helped to decide where to build the back slope so that the terrarium would be primed for viewing purposes. 

Introducing the residents

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Then came the fun (and slightly terrifying) part. Natasha showed me how to uproot plants from their little pots, brush off the soil and coil up their roots before relocating them in their new home. 

As gentle as I tried to be, I definitely felt like a big bully manhandling those fragile little roots. 

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The plants usually take up the back half of the terrarium, while moss and other decorations fill up the front. 

With a pair of tweezers, I clasped each plant by the root and firmly inserted it into the soil. 

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It was with great satisfaction that I finally installed Martin in his new tropical home. 

The quiet charm of terrariums

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As I’d hoped, making my very own terrarium did warm me up to its quiet appeal. There’s a sense of meditative control in building a world in a glass jar, preparing it for its self-contained existence. 

Terrarium-making isn’t as complicated as I’d initially envisioned. There is a lot of space for creativity in how you can customise the colours and arrangements in your ecological microcosm. 

On top of technical guidance, Amirul and Natasha also gave me tips on how to make my terrarium look more, for lack of a better phrase, aesthetically pleasing. It was here that I noticed the importance of building layers that are thick enough to be visible from the outside. Only then will the components of the terrarium stand out. 

Close terrarium care 

The beauty of terrariums is that they are mostly self-sufficient and require very little maintenance. For close terrariums like mine, the system relies on the cycle of respiration and condensation for its water supply. 

Apart from the occasional airing and watering, you can leave it to fend for itself while enjoying the greenery it provides to your home decor. 

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In full candour, as much as I enjoyed making mine, terrariums probably won’t be my next hot pursuit. Their staticity still perturbs me, though I’m glad that I can better empathise with my mother’s hobby now. 

Anticipating my tendency to be an absent-mother, I have since entrusted Martin in his grandmother’s much more patient custody. If social services ask, it’s for the best. 

Price: $ $

The Green Capsule

1 Kim Seng Promenade, Great World City, #02-143, Singapore 237994

Price

The Green Capsule

1 Kim Seng Promenade, Great World City, #02-143, Singapore 237994

Telephone: +65 9876 9884
Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 9876 9884

Operating Hours: 11am - 8pm (Daily)
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