Island Terrarium

By: Lynn E. McElfresh

Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2020

It was always my dream to take a piece of the River home with me in the fall, to help me savor my island world until I could return in the spring. Last fall, I did just that.

I walked about our little island looking for inspiration. Our island world is filled with granite rocks, moss, and ferns.

I was fascinated with old tree stumps covered with moss.

Lichen dots our granite rocks.

I found a terrarium at Ikea. Yes, there was some assembly required. Luckily, my daughter was on hand to help me with that. I filled it with River rocks taken from our North Shore.

Over the rock base, I sprinkled charcoal to help keep away mold and mildew and covered that with a mesh screen.

Next came the planting medium. Not soil, but Coir, which is made of coconut husk fiber. According to my research, this stuff is lightweight, retains water, and is resistant to decay. It’s supposed to be ideal for terrariums.

I had to soak the coir for 30 minutes in hot water. It was goopy!

I peeled moss off our front rocks, and lined the outside of the bottom of the terrarium with moss then put a layer of coir into the bottom of the terrarium.

I searched high and low for thin granite rocks with lichen. I worried that the terrarium would be too heavy to transport back to Florida.

Next, I dug up different kinds of ferns, careful to wash away all the dirt from the roots.

I used a hatchet to gather a few nicely weathered and moss-covered stump pieces. I installed the stump pieces first, then planted ferns and mosses around them.

I wonder if one or two island fairies are hiding amongst the island ferns.

Our little island had its first dusting of snow in early November. I’m sure the ferns and moss have gone dormant by now, as the north wind blows. But I can savor my tiny piece of Grenell Island while I enjoy the Florida sunshine. Ah! The best of both worlds.

By Lynn  E.  McElfresh

Just when I think Lynn McElfresh has run out of ideas about our Thousand Islands... she come up with this one!  Why did I not think of doing this long ago?  What a wonderful way to take enjoy our rocks, ferns and lichen all year long.
Lynn McElfresh came to Grenell Island for the first time to meet her fiancé’s family, in 1975. She became part of the family, and the island became part of her life. Lynn and her husband, Gary, spend their summers in the Thousand Islands and their winters in Dunedin, Florida. To see all of  Lynn’s island experiences, search TI Life under Lynn McElfresh.
And as an added bonus two months ago, we announced Lynn's first of nine novels... Grenell 1881, now on sale in several River locations.  See our TI Life Review, written by Janet Staples, and... buy it, read it and enjoy it!

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2020, Nature

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