HISTORY OF TERRARIUM
The first terrarium was developed by botanist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1842.
Ward had an interest in observing insect behaviour and accidentally left one of the jars unattended. A fern spore in the jar grew, germinated into a plant, and the terrarium was born.
The trend quickly spread in the Victorian era amongst the English and hardly a self-respecting Victorian household was without one. Instead of the terrarium, it was known as the Wardian Case. The story goes that Ward hired carpenters to build his Wardian Cases to export native British plants to Sydney, Australia. After months of travel, the plants arrived well and thriving. Likewise, plants from Australia were sent to London using the same method and Ward received his Australian plants in perfect condition.
His experiment indicated that plants can be sealed in glass without ventilation and continue thriving. For the first time, horticulturists were able to bring back tropical plants well-protected from salt air and changing climatic conditions during the long sea voyage.
Ward's terrariums also became popular for growing the plants, and it became almost a domestic necessity. Wardian cases grew into miniature Taj Mahals and Brighton Pavilions, perfect vehicles for the contemporary love of elaborate ornamentation as well as living plants. The Wardian case was fashionable in the United States in the early 1860s.
Today's Terrariums, no longer have the need to keep our plants away from cold and polluted air but with the dry air of our modern air conditioning, many plants have difficulty thriving without a great deal of attention. Terrariums allow us to keep plants easily in our homes and apartments while creating an environment which requires very little care.
Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward