Terrariums: The Desert Landscape

image courtesy Ben DiMatteo
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Taught by Ben DiMatteo

A true fan of the woods, Ben has logged hundreds of miles solo and group trekking particularly on trails that can be reached from the city by public transportation. His youth in scouting and many adult years spent rediscovering the lost art of woodcraft provide a tried-and-true wealth of knowledge that can't be gleaned from gear reviews or recreation store salespeople. Though he hasn't thru-hiked the AT, he's sure he could.

When in the city, Ben brings the great outdoors inside and teaches several classes on how to make and keep terrariums.

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The typical New York City window space most closely resembles a desert environment -- The air dry and warm, the sunlight intense at times, and water can be scarce, depending on who is home. Most terrarium plants, and many houseplants for that matter, perish fast when exposed to the full-on light of the sun for just a few hours. Your windowsill may be arid and bleak, but it does not have to be devoid of foliage.

One of the simplest and easy-to-maintain terrariums is the desert landscape. The cacti and succulents that thrive in dry air and intermittent watering are also some of the most peculiar and dazzling plants found in nature. And while most true terrariums require careful regulation of humidity, desert plants thrive in the driest conditions NYC summers and winters can throw at them.

In this three-hour course you'll make your own desert terrarium inside a container you bring with you, using plants, soil and materials provided by us. With techniques inspired mostly by 70's illustrations and common sense, you'll learn how to safely plant a cactus in a tight spot, how to fashion a miniature tumbleweed, and how to layer sand to give your terrarium that grand canyon look.

Topics covered:
- a brief history of indoor gardening
- basic plant physiology
- different terrarium styles to mimic different environments
- choosing plants for your terrarium
- how to make your own tools using common household items
- principles of miniature landscaping
- how to care for your terrarium

For this class, please bring your own terrarium container! 

Some terrarium choices include: mason, pickle and candle jars, small fishbowls and aquariums, vases, beakers and flasks, large drinking glasses and brandy snifters, cake stands and clear cookie jars, or just about any glass container 4 - 8 inches in diameter and at least 6 inches tall. Open to such variations as a collection of small cordial glasses or votives. It will need to have a wide opening at the top and not a narrow one. 

Class usually lasts about 2.5-3 hours, depending on how quickly you work! 


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