Terrariums are amongst the various means available to people if they want to spruce up their living spaces and offices with a touch of green, and are slowing emerging as the latest green trend across the globe. Many urban gardeners and plant lovers have become utterly fascinated by them.
For the uninitiated, a terrarium can be ideally defined as a self-contained plant landscape enclosed in sealable glass vessels, that when properly assembled and cared for, will thrive for years.
Often kept as decorative or ornamental articles, these little ecosystems are extremely low maintenance and raise the aesthetic appeal of any place that they placed in. Not just pertaining to sealed environments, terrariums can be easily conditioned to flourish in open spaces as well.
For Lakshmi Raju, a resident of Kochi, making and selling terrariums has now become a way of life, and that too quite a lucrative one. Along with Ganga Fischbeck, a friend, they supply these mini glassed ecosystems as not just home and office décor pieces but also as gifts too across the city.
Greenpiece Terrariums is a joint venture handled by the duo since 2015 and it all began out of a conversation that both plant lovers happened to share in a park at Jawahar Nagar with their kids.
While Ganga is an agricultural engineer, Lakshmi is a microbiology analyst, and interestingly, it was during these meetings at park that they found that both were born in the same hospital, belonged to the same hometown, and were educated in the same college, yet never crossed each others paths until they settled down in Kochi with their families many years later.
Intrigued by the entire concept of a mini garden enclosed within a glass case, both women began their own research on how to make one, what went into the making of a terrarium, what were the ideal plants and the optimal mix comprising soil, pebbles and lighting for its sustenance.
The first terrarium that they made was in a simple glass bottle but sadly that didn’t survive. Undeterred, they began digging deeper with more extensive research and went about conducting different experiments with containers that you’d not consider for terrariums—like shoes and even beer bottles!
Finally, it was a gift to a friend’s mother who was celebrating her 60th birthday that proved to be a turning point.
By then, they had actually gotten better at this hobby—using better vessels for example—and the gift ended up garnering a lot of enquiries and requests for the same.
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This little push was all that was required to lead Lakshmi and Ganga to take a plunge into the green world of terrariums. Lakshmi particularly mentions the contribution of Jacob, a botany professor who guided them during their rookie days of research.
“We never thought of starting Greenpiece Terrariums as a startup. Being a stay-at-home mother of two young children, what this venture has given me is the convenience of making these at my home itself. A lot of promotion happened because of word of mouth as people really loved our terrariums and spread about the word,” says Lakshmi to The Better India.
Today, their business is thriving to the extent that Greenpiece Terrariums rakes in an income of ₹40,000 every month! People in Kochi began loving these tiny gardens so much that requests for workshops and DIY kits soon started dropping in.
Only two weeks ago, they conducted their eighth workshop at the Cochin Gymkhana Club, where participants got to make two terrariums and also take them home.
“As much as these little plant systems look complicated, what we try to bust in our workshops are the notions of terrariums being hard to make or maintain by helping the participants make one and speak for themselves. I would like to add from my personal experience that even a kid can take care of terrariums because of its low maintenance,” adds Lakshmi.
With their increasing popularity, Lakshmi and Ganga now conduct terrarium workshops at different colleges across Kochi upon invitation and even ventured as far as taking classes for the botany department in colleges. They have even tried a hand at aquaponics and help people to set these up.
Terrariums are indeed a shining example of how cramped urban spaces can be enlivened with a dash of green and that too in a creatively effortless manner. Kudos to Lakshmi and Ganga, who are dedicatedly helping people achieve that!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)