North London Living: Festive Terrarium Workshop

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Yes, we joined forces with creative agency The Barefaced Movement to dress as the Google definition of a hipster for Christmas. Like something out of an Urban Outfitters guidebook, we then embraced the seemingly generic hipster activity of terrarium making and had a jolly good time thank you very much.

The talented Helena Willcocks of The Allotment Florist ignored our plethora of plaid, beanies and fake specs and taught us how to layer soil and stone to plant our tiny little plants inside jars with gusto.

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A table filled with foliage, mason jars, brushes awaited it’s guestlist of designers, writers and photographers. Illustrator Julia was the last one planting, cross eyed with concentration and sighing incessantly, but it was worth it for the delightful precision of her spiky stone layers.

The award for Most Neat Hipster Jar went to A Board Dude, Josh whose miniature soily world was planted to terrifyingly graphic/military aesthetic accuracy.

Meanwhile I threw green bits around and got soil in my rum and ginger, so, after looking at Helena like a toddler with something naughty, I drank up after an approving nod. Apparently it’s good for you. “I’d be dead if soil was bad to ingest” she tells us, stuffing some moss in her mouth.

Want to make your own? Last minute Christmas gift idea?

Here’s what you’ll need first:

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A clear glass jar, vase, bowl or other fabulous glass container hanging about

Rocks, pebbles or recycled glass bits

Potting soil

Small plants

Moss (optional)

Figures or decorative items (optional)

A scoop, spoon or shovel

General info:

When choosing your plants, find small plants that you can fit inside your jar that won’t get too big for it’s boots. Some plants will have multiple stems so you can break them up even further.

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To make sure your terrarium is healthy and happy, keep succulents and cacti together and keep fern and tropical plants together since they require different amounts of water and soil. You’ll want cactus soil for the succulents and regular old potting soil for everything else. The little rocks are used as a false drainage layer and to look pretty.


1.Fill your glass container with a healthy layer of soil first, then a layer of mini rocks and repeat as you desire. Helena tells us to stagger them like mini hills for viewing purposes and set the stage, if you will.

2. Remove your chosen plants from their pots (try choosing varied heights and colours) and get ready to plant. Make little wells in the soil like you’re about to bury your brother at the beach, then plant away. Space them out nicely. Be gentle with them, they’re small and fall apart easily. Like all of us at this volatile time of year.

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3. Add your finishing touches and make your own little world come to life. This is your moment. Always wanted a herb garden with Parsley the Lion? Now’s your chance. Fancied running a theme park? Get fixing up the mini ferris wheel. Brush off any extra bits of soil from the glass walls and decorations, then sit back and admire your creation.

4. Your terrarium is incredibly low maintenance, but if you’re still more Grim Reaper than green fingered here’s the basics: Keep your new glass by indirect sunlight and only water when it looks parched.They’re not a thirsty old lush like yourself, alright? Enjoy for a bit, then give away.

Hungry for more foliage based festive DIY? Have a look at our Wreath Workshop article.

Photos by Mike Barry.

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