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.