Roosevelts Terrariums

    “What on earth is a terrarium?” I said. My daughter was rambling on and on about terrariums. She wanted to make one. She wanted to make several. She wanted to fill our home with them. As my response would indicate, I had no idea what a terrarium was, or how to go about making one.

    And did I really want my daughter to make one?

    “Daddy,” she said, batting her eye lashes at me, “You know I like only pretty things. Not icky things. “

    “Yes. I know that.”

    “So, let me have a terrarium. It’s pretty. It’s not ugly.”

    Her logic was hard to argue with. “Okay. How?” I asked.

    “You’re the daddy,” she said. “You figure it out.” As she skipped away from me.

    Once again, her logic was air tight.

    I’ll do anything for my little girl, even things that don’t make sense to me. So, I pulled out ye olde Google machine and did some research. Turns out, here in Portland, Roosevelts Terrariums is the place for terrarium creation classes.

    A terrarium, is kind of like an aquarium but, instead of animals (though, animals sometimes can live in a terrarium as well), you fill a glass bowl—usually with the front cut open, or with a lid—with moss, sticks, rocks, twigs, toys and other organic items. It doesn’t seem like it’s something you need a class for but there is, apparently, a science for it. And the end result is, no doubt, a lasting and fun keep sake.

    I signed us up for the class and, after getting some ice cream at Salt and Straw, we made our way over to Roosevelts Aquariums on SE 44th In Portland. A short introduction gave us a history of terrariums and some of the problems one might face when making one. We learned that terrariums were invented in the first part of the nineteenth century with the expressed purpose of keeping tropical plants alive as they journeyed across the sea to the New World. As a result of what those earlier terrarium creators learned anything we could throw at them in the modern world—if created properly—would be mere child’s play.

    Class began. An array of plants, dirt, rocks, sticks, and even glass cased were presented before us. My daughter made hers as neat as possible, wiping the black dirt off the glass and arranging a few bright colored pebbles underneath her moss and sticks. It looked like a miniature paradise.

    Mine on the other hand… I had fun. That’s all that matters. But it won’t be making an appearance in our home.

    Roosevelts Terrariums in Southeast Portland is a cool way to get your hands dirty and to flex your creative muscles. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but I’m so glad my daughter did! It’s such a Portland thing to do and should be on your list of things to do. Check them out on the web at

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