London Terrariums

Miniature ecosystems that actually water themselves


Gardening is having a bit of a moment in London. New flower shops are opening that focus on simple-to-care-for, visually striking plants and plenty of creatives visit the Columbia Road Flower Market every Sunday to buy plants and cut flowers. Some of the most interesting examples of this green wave are the exquisite terrariums from London Terrariums, made by designers Emma Sibley and Tom Murphy.

Though they have no horticultural background, both grew up with family members who were into gardening. “For me it was my mother, Susan—our house when I was younger was practically like stepping into the Amazon. For Emma it was her grandparents; she would spend her summers making miniature gardens with them,” Murphy says. A year and a half ago, the duo started their own green experiment by making terrariums, using stones and moss from one of their gardens, cuttings from houseplants and a pickle jar.


They soon realized that creating terrariums (which have been around since the 1800s) was an addictive hobby. “Before we knew it, both our houses were overflowing with these little ecosystems,” say Sibley and Murphy. “We then started making them for friends and then friends of friends, and after a while we were making them for people we didn’t even know—this was the moment we realized ‘London Terrariums’ was born.”

So far they’ve made their miniature ecosystems—which don’t need any watering, as the condensation that forms in the container hydrates the plants—for the likes of Urban Outfitters, YMC, YCN and BBSC. For Sibley and Murphy, what started as a hobby has quickly turned into a job, but they haven’t lost their fascination for the terrariums: “We are predominately interested in the science behind how they actually work, as opposed to making something overly kitsch or purely a commercial product,” Murphy says. “For us the theme of ‘gardening under glass’ is a much broader subject that permeates throughout the urban environment across the world; we see London Terrariums being much bigger than just the terrarium.”

London Terrariums also hold workshops teaching people how to make them, with the next one coming up at department store Heal’s in July. Their best advice for aspiring terrarium-makers? “Patience and perseverance.”

Images courtesy of London Terrariums