Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Herbarium, a tutorial of sorts

Thinking about what to get my Dad for Christmas whilst also idly musing about keeping herbs in the kitchen over the winter gave me an idea to make a modern, herby version of a terrarium, a Herbarium.  Now I'm sure most of you don't need a tutorial on how to make a terrarium - especially if you're my age and have fond memories of them from your childhood. Sure, you can debate pebbles, gravel, activated charcoal but they are more a matter of taste I think than  necessity.  As long as there is some drainage and a light, well-draining soil, anyone can make a terrarium.  All that said, I was taking photos as I went along and really loved them, especially of the pebbles, so here it is, my tutorial:

I chose a mix of pebbles and gravel as drainage, both were rinsed thoroughly first in a colander before being layered in a glass vase.  I found a lovely rectangular shaped one in IKEA, a far more modern take on the old skool green bottle terrariums of memory!

I didn't bother with activated charcoal; I don't think it does much in terms of helping with drainage, as long as you don't overwater I think that the double gravel layer works well.  I would expect to refresh the herbarium once every so often to trim roots, replace the soil and at that point clean the gravel and pebbles through.  For the soil layer I chose a fine, well draining soil.  I could have added sand to the mix but I was happy with it as it was.  As it's a winter herbarium I planted sage (sage and chestnut soup, oh yes!), lemon thyme (always) and parsley (a good all-rounder).  You can't overplant otherwise you'll end up with an overgrown mess, hence the basil hovering in the background, but I was happy to put large sage and parsley in as they should be being used regularly and therefore trimmed back.

Yep, I made two, I couldn't resist!  The garden centre grows an amazing selection of herbs in the spring and I plan to refresh them next year with some funky new additions.  My herbarium is now the new centerpiece for dining room table, a perfect accompaniment to dinner.

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