‘Tis the season when the notion of evergreens conjures visions of cedar swags, juniper wreaths and noble fir Christmas trees. They’ve been a festive part of the holiday season for centuries, symbolizing new life and vitality. Now, there’s another evergreen spreading cheer and decking the halls around town. Yes, I’m talking about terrariums: the ultimate evergreens, always in season.
Inspired by the variety we unearthed for an article earlier this year, we thought now would be the perfect time to see what’s new for the holidays. Whether you’re looking for a unique centerpiece or an everlasting gift, there are lots of ways—and places—to get started. There are classes, kits, exquisite vessels, materials galore and, of course, plenty of pre-made selections to suit your fancy and your checkbook.
Most of the garden shops and florists around town will let—and even help —you curate your own terrarium. But, if you’re really into doing it yourself, Artemesia on Southeast 28th is your spot. It’s a naturalist’s dream, with delightful bits of nature that invite investigation. If you’re overwhelmed by it all or pressed for time, but still want to do a little assembly on your own, you can purchase one of their kits. Ranging from $29-$32, they come with a glass bowl, sand, succulents, some special trinkets and instructions. Each one is on display, so you can admire before you buy.
Want to build your own kit to give as a gift? You can do that, too. The minimum charge is $40.
Maybe you already have the perfect vessel and plants, but need some sand, shells or moss. Artemesia has you covered with sampler kits:
- Sand sampler kits are $18 and include ground hematite, natural yellow beach sand, natural white beach sand, ground green river rock, ground quartz and ground garnet.
- Sea life kits come with an array of shells, urchins and other treasures from the sea for $14.
- Moss kits sell for $13 and contain a variety of reindeer mosses in a spectrum of colors: cream, chartreuse, pink, sage and rust.
110 SE 28th Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Living Ornaments, Anyone?
If you’ve passed by—or eaten your way through—Alma Chocolate on Northeast 28th lately, you may have noticed bright designlab’s hanging ornament terrariums. Known for their sense of whimsy and storytelling, the team has created a range of winter wonderlands using tiny figurines and materials collected from forest walks. Look closely and you’ll see a diminutive deer peering from a mossy landscape or a black bear camouflaged by pinecones. Stop by the following local retailers to pick up one for $30:
140 NE 28th Avenue
Portland, OR 97232
3300 SE Belmont Street
Portland OR 97214
7919 SE 13th Avenue
Portland OR 97202
3972 N Mississippi Avenue
Portland OR 97227
Leah Pellegrini’s terrariums are tiny. Really tiny. A glass artist, she blows her little table-top vessels and fills them with air plants and succulents like String of Pearls. Leah’s been building beautiful glass mobiles for some time and she tells me it’s only a matter of time before she twists some mobility into her tiny terrariums. Can’t wait! For now, you can buy Leah’s little vessels, planted ($22) or not ($18), at Splurge on Northeast Fremont.
1323 NE Fremont Street
Portland, OR 97218
It’s All About the Vessel
Photos: The Xtra Boone Speed and The Nest Terrarium Brenton Salo.
For terrariums that make a bold statement, there’s only one way to go: Esque Studios’ vessels. Their hand-blown pieces are breathtaking and unusual, attracting international attention from the design cognoscenti. They make them from 100% recycled glass that’s heated in a furnace powered by wind energy. How’s that for a gift that’s truly evergreen? My favorite, the Heady Terrarium (indeed, it is a human head and it wears a little smile) sells for $900. The Nest Terrarium, which hangs from a leather strap, goes for $1,450-$2,650. The Xtra comes with a cork stopper and retails for $800. And, the Ghost Terrariums, which some use as pastry trays, come in various shapes, sizes and prices: from $800-$1,500.
6717 North Borthwick Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97217
Ready-Made for Easy Gift Giving
If you want to leave the design and assembly to a terrarium expert, there are some new delights in town.
Emerald Petals is full of charming, quiet surprises. There are traditional terrariums in untraditional vessels: vintage pieces adorned with vintage buttons. There are brandy snifters filled with interesting plants and metallic ornaments. On the walls, there are sandblasted grapevines sheltering air plants. Gourds, hanging and on sticks, display succulents. Owner Hilary Holmes has a knack for sprinkling spontaneous treasures throughout her terrariums: marbles, glass floats, carved chess pieces and other found objects. She chooses vessels and fixtures that are naturally elegant. That includes tucking String of Pearls, air plants and succulents into pretty pottery pieces that are made by local artist, Jill Daniel.
4220 N Mississippi Avenue
Portland, OR 97217
For me, Garden Fever is like the Powell’s of garden shops. They have everything my greenish thumb could hitch a ride for and more. I could linger and linger there. Thank goodness they don’t have a coffee shop, too. They do have terrariums—and some very creative ones to boot. They have some that hang in glass balls and others that rest in mason jars, apothecary jars and giant brandy snifters. Most of them are themed and named accordingly.
There’s “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” that tells the story with a twiggy tree and tiny ornaments. “Island in the Blue Pacific” features a mossy island sprinkled with shells, floating on a sea of blue transparent glass gravel. “Tea Time” is one of my favorites: a delicate metal table and chairs await guests amid a carpet of pretty, little ferns.
Garden Fever also carries all the materials you need to build your own terrarium: plants, vessels, polished rock, charcoal, sand, flat stones and glass gravel in so many colors.
3433 NE 24th Avenue
Portland, OR 97212
Solabee Flowers and Botanicals is a newish addition to the Kenton neighborhood. It shares space with the Kenton Family Wellness Center, greeting visitors with good, green vibes. I felt the cure when I walked through the door. The front window displays their au natural hanging creations: nothing but what mother Nature ordered, inside glass balls for $25 and teardrops for $10. Beneath, an air plant rests in a bird’s nest under a tall glass top. It’s nature indoors, and their terrariums stick to the theme.
8315 N Denver Avenue
Portland, OR 97217
Take a Class
If you want to learn from some of Portland’s top terrarium experts, there are plenty of classes you can take—even in time for Christmas gift giving. And don’t forget that gift certificates make great gifts, too! Here’s the holiday lineup:
Collage with nature for $30. Class includes the container, rocks, moss/lichen and plants.
- Sunday, December 19, noon-1:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, December 21, 6:30-8 p.m.
Make a fishbowl terrarium for $30. Class includes container and arrangement materials.
- Saturday, December 18, 1-2:30 p.m.