by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Melissa Richmond, of Roots Cultivation & Design, showed her Sellwood Library class an example of a completed terrarium. Perhaps no one would have come to the workshop at the Sellwood Branch Library earlier this year, if the topic had been listed as “making Wardian cases”.

But a group of youngsters – and several interested adults – learned from instructor Melissa Richmond, of Roots Cultivation & Design, that the indoor garden boxes we call terrariums were the accidental invention of Dr. Nathaniel Ward, back in 1827.

“Dr. Ward was actually studying bugs; little cocoons,” Richmond explained. “He had them in glass jars. Soon, he noticed little ferns and little plants starting to sprout up in the soil that he’d put in there for the bugs. He decided that he was onto something, and started experimenting with growing different kinds of plants inside of jars.”

Others shared Ward’s discovery; and soon, botanists all over the world were building “Wardian cases” to transport plants safely over long distances.

“’Most every plant we bring into our house has, in some form, grown naturally outside. We make terrariums, because spider plants and other tropical plants grow well outside – in Hawaii – but not here in Portland,” Richmond said.

Working with supplies provided by Richmond and her helpers, participants took clear glass vases in hand, and put in gravel and soil before situating little plants inside, using miniature gardening tools. Then they put on lids to keep all the moisture inside.

While the class worked to make their tiny gardens, Richmond told THE BEE, “I get pleasure from sharing my knowledge, and I enjoy hands-on projects – especially where people create a project they can take home with them. I’ve worked the most with seniors in assisted living and memory care communities.”

But, last summer, she started teaching classes through the Multnomah County Library system – first offering “seed saving” workshops. “Terrarium training has taken off this year; it's really a hot topic now. People love making them.”

To learn more about Richmond and Roots Cultivation & Design, go online to: HYPERLINK ""

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