OPAAT Terrariums

I’ve made a habit of popping into garden centers and nurseries when I’m on the road and dashing between meetings. It gives me the chance to stop, take a moment to observe a house full of beautiful plants, and (almost always) purchase a little-green-something or a new vessel for planting. Finally, I thought: Why not replicate these botanical environments on a micro scale to keep at home?

Not Satisfied With Just One Piece!

Once I’ve collected enough pieces, I set everything out on the patio table and devise a plan for assembly. Now, I begin work that turns into the kind of flow where time just melts away. It’s truly amazing therapy to forget about time, about worries, about anything other than the work that’s immediately at-hand. And there’s truly a transcendent quality to the kind of peace and satisfaction that comes from using your hands to be creative, to actually make something tangible and beautiful.

A Gorgeous Collection of Little Worlds in Glass

Although I have a strict rule against giving living things to others as gifts (unless I know they’re already a hobbyist or actually asked for the Beta fish), these can be an exception.

Succulent terrariums are extremely low-maintenance. They’re already done, so no extra work is involved. The plants require little attention beyond moderate light, occasional gentle misting with water, and the plants usually take so long to grow that re-potting isn’t necessary for long after gifting. Plus, they look great no matter where they’re kept.

On the other hand, woodland terrariums — think begonias, ferns, carnivorous plants, and moss — are also gorgeous. They bring lushness with their deep greens and rich pops of color. Although they require more attention with regular watering, and will need re-potting sooner than their desert cousins, these terrariums are a great and sophisticated way to bring the serenity of the forest into your home or office space.

A Second-Chance Jade

I got a second chance. And this jade embodies that chance.

Jade plants are said to bring luck to its caregiver. At this point in my life, I won’t pin my future happiness to that wish. But I will sure take that luck if it comes my way.

When my friend Melinda showed me her houseplants — an impressive collection that clearly gets plenty of attention and care (inspiring!), I was captivated by her gorgeous jade.

I had just started collecting houseplants and knew little about them beyond the common names. Selecting a new plant involved me eyeing pretty flowers at the grocery store. On my way from produce to seafood, I’d circle once or twice around the floral inventory, see a small plant helpfully labeled “foliage” that looked friendly, and plop it into the front basket of my carriage.

I was a novice and plants were still mere novelty for me.

But her jade, man. It was bright green, had strong limbs, and had perky leaves that extended confidently from its trunk. Clearly, it was happy.

It was also about 40 years old.

My excitement was hard to miss, and my friend showed my her modest collection of little pots with baby jades sprouting from the soil. She had made a small project of propagating the plant. And one of those babies was for me.

The perfect gift for a houseplant beginner.

My beautiful prized jade plant.

It seemed unfair to have lost that little jade when I went to rehab. My former partner refused to part with it when I went back to town to get the rest of my things (and my many houseplants).

So I had become sober and jade-less.

Melinda was one of the reasons I went to rehab, actually. In the storm I had created around myself at the end of my run, she pushed through the mess and reached out to me. She saw that I was not just depressed, not just drinking too much, not just putting myself in danger — she saw that I had lost hope of anything better for myself.

She told me I could get better. And I believed her.

At that point, I knew I was being reckless and that I was lost. I just didn’t care about myself enough to really do anything about it. I didn’t seem worth the effort of getting help and getting sober.

She told me I was worth it.

So I left my life behind to get better. I didn’t know what my life would look like when I returned, but I knew I couldn’t return myself in the same state of chaos and un-caring. I had to learn how to nurture myself again.

Due to reasons largely out of my own control and influence, I did not fully return to that life. Just as that jade baby was not returned to me.

Aside from an intimate relationship that would’ve compromised my wellness, I was afraid that that life I had before rehab — the town I lived in, my friends, my job, my love for my favorite place in the world — would end completely.

But Melinda had another jade for me. From her collection of the other foot-lings in those little pots that my baby jade originated — she gave me another one. Since it was from the same littler, it’s about the size of the jade she first gave me.

I look at it now and think of the part of me that barely survived the depression and the alcoholism. The part that loves that place and the people in my life. The part that still wants a good life for myself. The part that heard her promise.

It’s my second-chance jade. And I treasure both the same.