Wardian Case: The Classed Up Terrarium


Terrariums have blown up into a major trend in home gardening over the past few years, with everyone from the New York Times to Martha Stewart (erm, not to mention Jeffery Tambor) taking a crack at them. It’s no wonder they’re so well loved; terrariums are a cinch to put together, need little maintenance, and can be made in just about any vessel you like. These days they come in all shapes and sizes, from elegant apothecary jars to recycled spaghetti sauce containers. But my new favorite is the Wardian case.

In truth, there’s nothing new about the Wardian Case. It’s Victorian in origin, dating back to the early 19th century. Like a terrarium, plants placed inside can thrive will little assistance, thanks to the mini-ecosystem that develops once the lid is closed. But this is where the similarities to its 1970s counterpart end. While the average, run-of-the-mill terrarium is generally a simple glass number, the Wardian case is a structure emulating the ornate style of homes common to the era in which it was created. The elegant glass and wire or wood structures look similar to a shrunken Conservatory of Flowers.

Finding an original Wardian case is no easy feat, but reproductions are coming back into fashion. I recently fell head-over-heels for the selection at Paxton Gate. The pictures online do them no justice, so stop in to the store for a look on these little miniature wonders.

Images: Wikipedia, Flickr


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