Terrariums on the Skybridge in Seattle

– Posted in: Garden Adventures


At Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show last week, I shot photos of succulent container gardens on the skybridge, a glass-enclosed walkway. It wasn’t until I downloaded the images that I realized most included terrariums. The display “Portholes in Time: Gardens on a Minor Scale” created the pleasantly weird feeling of viewing a window on the past, complete with old-time music that fit the show’s “Floral Symphony” theme.

The exhibit resembled a sea shanty, and through an open porthole, visitors could glimpse a workshop with objects from the 1930s. The designer (Cultivar LLC) accessorized with antiques, yes, but also liquid-filled bottles, which you’d find in someone’s home but never in a second-hand shop. On a shelf was an early edition of the Sunset Western Garden Book. (Back then it was Sunset’s Complete Garden Book.) Terrariums had an undersea theme, which succulents and tillandsias lend themselves to nicely.

I think it’s deliciously eerie to see a stopwatch in a terrarium, don’t you? Certainly unexpected.

The chopsticks make it seem that whoever had been working on this terrarium would return shortly. Without the watch, this composition wouldn’t be nearly as intriguing. I love the use of driftwood, too. Interesting that the designer refrained from using shells. I would have thought they were a given, but I like the scene without them.

In another exhibit, terrariums by Tiffany Wilfert of Artisan’s Cottage included a bell jar.

Adding a pop of red was a Borrowers’-sized bicycle.

Nearby was a display by Molbak’s Garden + Home that incorporated orchids and tillandsias in glass cylinders.

But no exhibit had as many gardens-under-glass as that of Ravenna Gardens.

Succulents don’t like a lot of humidity, so an open terrarium is best. They do fine in a nondraining container if watered very minimally.

Ravenna’s designer used some really unusual glass containers.

I like the upright rocks and the way sand has layers that can be seen through the glass.

This is the view of the street from the skybridge. Do you see the reflection in the upper right? It shows I was shooting through a window, myself a bit of fauna in an overlarge terrarium.

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
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Karen Chapman February 20, 2012, 3:20 pm

I couldn’t get to the show (or my seminar) this year so I’ve enjoyed glimpsing a little of what I missed. Thank you!

Hi, Karen — So sorry you missed it! But there’s always next year. — Debra

Candy Suter February 21, 2012, 1:58 am

What a cool show. Thanks for taking us on a tour! I would have put a shell or two in that porthole scene for sure. And it does look like the person who has the exhibit just put their chop sticks in the terrarium while they went on a break. LOL I don’t get the watch though unless they are trying to make you think you are looking at a scene from long ago. I also really like Ravenna Gardens designs. Really awesome! I wonder where she finds cool glass like that. I would like to do something like this. But I bet they are really expensive. Thanks Debra!

Hi, Candy — You’ll pay a lot more for such things if you buy them ready-made. Good sources of glass containers are thrift stores (old fishbowls work great), craft stores, and places that sell floral supplies. — Debra

Fran Sorin February 21, 2012, 4:21 am

WOW is all I can say. I have never seen any terraniums that come close to what you photographed. Each one of them tells a story. What an unusual and compelling way to get gardeners to take in the plantings.

Your photos have inspired me. Fran

Hi, Frannie — Thanks! You’re right, each does tell a story. I hadn’t thought of it in that way. Good observation! — Debra

ann February 21, 2012, 7:10 am

What great inspiration for gardeners at this time of year..

Yes, regardless of location, anyone can have a garden in a glass bowl! — Debra

Joni Holland February 21, 2012, 10:20 am

Great pics. Love the red bike and upright rocks. This looks like it was a great show.

Hi, Joni — Lots of good ideas. Personally, I’d love that bell jar. — Debra

Sheila Schultz February 21, 2012, 3:33 pm

I haven’t been a big terrarium fan since the 70’s, but I’m quickly inching my way back! These shots are intriguing, the pocket watch is pretty darn magical. When using tillandsias, any idea how to spritz them w/out mucking up the glass? Thanks…

Hi, Sheila — I’m no expert, but I should think that the humidity in an enclosed terrarium would be enough to keep any tillandsia happy. — Debra

Gordon Rigg February 22, 2012, 8:23 am

I visited Seattle several years ago. Loved the Space needle! Love the skybridge – a great way to keep the rain off.

It’s a wonderful city. Wish I could have been there long enough to do some exploring. — Debra

tamara cucchiara February 22, 2012, 11:09 am

I always enjoy your photography and succulent photos. I’m a big fan of yours. I see we “like” each other’s postings on facebook. I’m honored that you would take a peek at my postings. I will be joining a couple of your workshops at the San Mateo Flower Show!!!

Hey, that’s terrific, Tamara! Be sure to say hello. — Debra

katzien February 22, 2012, 2:34 pm

Found you just today in researching how to go lawnless. You’re now in my reader, and my heart! xo

How nice! At first I read “lawless.” Did a double-take, ha. — Debra

bestelectricleafblowersreviews March 3, 2012, 8:29 am

Hi Debra! I just love your post. Thank you for sharing all these pictures. You really inspires me. Looking forward to read more of your new posts.

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