Saturday, January 27, 2007

"I'm a Mac, I'm a PC, I'm a Terrarium!"

The Popularity of Apple's "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ad campaign recently reminded me of a web page created by Ania Mitros that I came across when I was researching building a terrarium. I was pretty impressed with her creativity because I was planning on building one in an aquarium and hadn't considered housing one inside of something other than the traditional enclosures like a glass bottle or aquarium.

A few days ago I contacted her and asked if she wouldn't mind answering a couple of questions about her experience building this terrarium for carnivorous plants. She was gracious enough to find some time to respond and below I'll copy/paste our e-mail exchange.

Were you interested in gardening before you started the terrarium?

"Neither before nor after the Mac have I considered myself a gardener. I enjoy having plants around and in fact have a ponytail palm that's been with me since 6th grade, about 19 years. I started the terrarium on a whim, or more precisely, on two whims. I bought the Mac at a garage sale with thoughts of fish tanks. When I thought more deeply about the details of building one, I found myself concerned that if the tank leaked,I'd have myself a little flood. Near where I lived was a quirky little shop that specialized in carnivorous plants,succulents,and bright lamps to cheer up Seattlites during the long winters (although some of my friends commented on how well those lights would work for illicit marijuana plants). I put the two ideas together and built a terrarium. The owner of the Indoor Sun Shoppe sold me special soil and advised me to use distilled water or rain water,since the carnivorous plants prefer acidic soil."

Did any of your plants fail?

"Only now that you asked me did I realize that I did lose one plant! The Drosera capensis is nowhere to be seen! On the other hand, I also have some plants that I didn't when I started. There are a lot of little green grass-like plants and what I think is moss as ground cover. It all appeared on its own."

(MBT Note: It's not uncommon for "new plants" to appear in your terrariums. Sometimes spores or seeds will awaken that have been dormant in your substrate. I've read of mosses and ferns sprouting from the coconut sheets that some people use as backgrounds in aquariums.)

"I had one episode when I dried out the plants. I went away on a three week vacation and figured that if I put the terrarium in a larger tub of water and covered it, the humidity would be enough. It wasn't. The little circular sundew, Drosera spatulata, was particularly unhappy and shrunk a lot. After I returned from my trip and started keeping the terrarium properly moist, it grew back and multiplied. I now have several of those sundews, although none quite as big as the original plant. They grow slowly."

Did you see any one particular plant really thrive?

"I used to have only a single plant bulb (10W, I think). A few months ago, I added a second bulb and saw a big difference. The taller sundew Drosera dichotoma giant, isn't growing as tall anymore, as if it didn't have to try so hard to reach the light. The venus flytrap and pitcher plant have both turned a darker redder color. Usually the flowers grow up up up towards the light and eventually burn themselves to blackness on the bulb, unless I detour them to grow out of the front of the Mac through where the screen used to be."

What kind of reaction did you get from people who saw your terrarium?

"I keep the Mac in my cubicle at work. Most people comment on it when they first walk into my cube. Many ask what's in there. Some are very surprised when I tell them. Most ask how often I feed the plants (never, and they're lucky if they catch one or two flies per year). One man spent 5 minutes telling me about his plants and the local carniverous plant club and when they meet...he was very excited."


I'd like to thank Ania for taking a few moments out of her schedule to answer these questions about her carnivorous plant terrarium. If you're looking for a project to pass the cold winter days consider doing something like she did. Visit Ania's web page to see more info on the Mac she turned into a terrarium and see photos of the carnivorous plants she chose. If you don't have a lot of space but would like to garden something like this would be a great starter project.

If you're not familiar with the ad campaign from Apple that I mentioned above you can see one of the commercials on YouTube.


DragonStone said...

Oh wow! That's pretty neat! I don't have what it takes to get that creative. I remember catching "Caroline in the City" one night and I saw how she had that tv-aquarium in her living room. I was really fond of the idea after but I would never make one.

But fear not, I do have venus fly trap (at least, what's left of it after the squirrels mauled it) and a purple pitcher plant.

MrBrownThumb said...

Oh wow did you just bring back a memory. I had totally forgotten about that tv set/aquarium.

Yeah Ania did a really cool job and I've been looking for one of those Macs that were really popular a few years ago. I'm particularly drooling over the possibility of finding one of the see through models.

LOL, I just saw that you registered so you could comment on blogger. Take it a step further and start your own blog about whatever you like.


DragonStone said...

Aw, heck, I wouldn't know what to post about. I guess a random post here and there about my gardening hobby might be helpful enough. hehe.

MrBrownThumb said...

You could always do a blog devoted to those Jade plants you like. I get a lot of visits to my blog from people searching for information on them.

I haven't seen a blog yet devoted to them.

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