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Cafe brings green-filled terrariums to Ha Noi

Update: November, 01/2015 - 03:19
Mean green machine: Participants excitedly build their terrariums for the first time. — VNS Photos Dung Nguyen

An architecture graduate pursues his passion for creating tiny bowls of life, and teaches others how to do the same - to build terrariums. Thuy Dung reports.

It was an unseasonably hot Sunday in October, and rows of terrarium on display on the shelves were sweating, the moisture turning into beads in the round glass containers.

Nguyen Tien Dung, the owner of Green Oasis Coffee Shop at Alley 6, Le Thanh Tong Street, was explaining to nine people how to make a terrarium.

In the green space, the coffee shop is featured with various types of plants, or even succulents grown in pots.

Dung's workshop is held between 7am and 9am every Sunday with the number of participants usually remaining at 10. In this free-of-charge classes, you only have to pay for materials priced between US$9 and $12. Dung will guide everyone step-by-step to construct a basic terrarium.

Terrariums have begun gaining favour with young enthusiasts and creative folks.

In 2014, the 25-year-old architecture graduate started to do research about terrarium. Rather than following his study major, he decided to spend most of his time pursuing his passion with green projects. He made enquiries about terrariums - how to build them, where to buy materials, which plants work best. He admitted the most difficult challenge that he had to face with terrarium was with regard to materials.

"Although the interest in terrarium has been growing around the world for a long time, it is still quite new to Viet Nam. It was hardly possible to find basic materials needed at that time," Dung said.

In the beginning, Dung imported most plants from around the northern areas or in Central Highlands City of Da Lat. They, therefore, can easily adapt to the climate in Ha Noi and also can survive for a long time.

"The crucial requirement for the plants is they be tiny, but fully developed plants in Viet Nam are normally big and crude," he said.

Planting seeds: Workshop participants build terrariums under the instruction of Nguyen Tien Dung.

He then started to import some other types from Thailand but everything got even more challenging.

"In the beginning, I thought there was no difference between the soils in Viet Nam and Thailand and assuredly imported plants in bulk. However, most of them died because they could not acclimate themselves in Ha Noi," Dung said.

To build a terrarium, you need a glass container, pebbles, compost, plants and chopsticks, and place the plant into position. First, the bottom needs to be filled with one or two centimetres of pebbles. Then a layer of moss needs to be placed over the pebbles to keep the dirt from seeping into the pebble. Spread about a 0.5cm layer of compost over the pebble to absorb odour. Then add around 5cm of soil which depends on the type and size of the plant. Finally put the plant inside terrarium.

The plant will provide enough oxygen, carbon dioxide and moisture to remain alive in the sealed terrarium. With a container without lids, it requires more water and care since the moisture is lost through evaporation.

Part of the appeal of making a basic terrarium is that it does not require a great deal of gardening knowledge. Compared to other types of regular house plants which require considerable attention, terrariums can easily survive in an easy-to-care way. Once it reaches a state of equilibrium which is neither too moist nor too dry, it can even exist for a decade.

Besides, they also touch on a few other movements such as budget-friendly decor and freestyles.

Dung explained, "One of the reasons why my terrarium workshop is usually full of people is because they are free to arrange stones and mosses. Even to some terrarium enthusiasts, they can elevate them to objects of arts with exquisite creation."

He stressed that most of people are interested in terrarium from a design standpoint, not a gardening concern.

Describing it as something "primeval", Nguyen Thuy Trang, a participant in the workshop, said a terrarium was like a beautiful tiny living thing that you can easily take care of in your apartment, or on your desk in the office.

"I even wish I could live inside it," Trang added. — VNS

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