Thursday, July 26, 2012


Things are finally looking up with my work deadlines. In an earlier post, I'd mentioned the workload has been rather hectic the past month, but this morning I was able to get two big projects off my desk. So that leaves a little time to stop and smell the roses before digging back into the work that is still rapidly piling up on my desk! One of the first things I turn to to rejuvenate the spirit is my plants, but with this summer's horrid heat, I have not been able to work in the garden much. So I've turned my attention to my indoor eden of African violets, rex begonias, episcias, and streptocarpus (sounds like a disease, doesn't it?!). I like to display some of my flowering pretties in Victorian-style Wardian cases like this one that sits in my dining room. This particular one contains two violets and a streptocarpus.

In an earlier post, I talked about the Victorians' passion for botany. One of their favorite pastimes was growing prized specimens in these glass showpieces known as Wardian cases—named for 19th-century botanist Nathaniel Ward. While on a woodland walk, he found a moth pupa and placed it in a bottle he happened to be carrying. When he returned home, he forgot all about it—until months later when he discovered that instead of a butterfly, a fern seedling had spouted. And so began this enduring Victorian tradition. At the time, some suspected it was a fad but Wardian cases continue to be popular today and many sources sell reproduction cases with Victorian flair.

Can you imagine having a Wardian case this big?! When the Victorians embraced a hobby, they certainly did it with panache!

I think I must have been a Victorian in an earlier life because I seem to share their penchant for many things, including collecting these charming cases. Today, I have about 10 of them in various rooms and I've even had the opportunity to write about them in an article on the history of terrariums that I did for Flower Gardening magazine several years ago.


  1. The Victorians certainly gave us beautiful things to enjoy. Your gardens are beautiful. I think someone needs to put your home in a magazine!

  2. Interesting. I didn't know how the cases started! Love this post.

  3. Your Wardian case is nice. I've always liked those but don't have any. Thanks for informing me on the origin of those, how interesting. I wish I did have room for one. Have a great day!

  4. Your Wardian case looks lovely with the violets in it. This was an interesting post. I just can't imagine having a Wardian case as large as the one above!

  5. I do think you are a Victorian reincarnated! And it is good to have so much work!!

  6. The one in the photo is lovely, Kimber! I remember seeing Wardian cases in Victoria several years ago and have loved them ever since.


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