Julie Hews is as lovely as the plants in her flower shop, Ampersand Elements. The shop was an oasis on the gray winter morning when I visited to ask a few questions about succulents and why they might just be the best houseplant ever.
Terrariums and Dish Gardens
It was during an earlier visit to Ampersand Elements that Julie’s terrariums caught my eye. Tucked into clear glass containers along with ceramic figurines, moss, stone, and other naturals materials, the terrariums create an intriguing diorama; a miniature world of greenery flooded with light. Though I was drawn to the terrariums, Julie said the succulents do just as well in dish gardens.
At least two varieties, “hens and chicks survive the winter and grow in gardens all over Maine,” Julie said. They can winter outside or be brought indoors for the season. Others of course are designated houseplants.
“I think the fact that here we are in Maine enjoying plants that are so different and unique, with varieties from Arizona, Mexico, California, and South America, is incredible,” she said.
Because they come from such far away places, succulents can be a bit pricey. But, they can last for a very long time, decades in fact. “My grandmother had a plant in a dish that was at least 40 years old,” Julie said.
Succulents may take less care than other houseplants, but they “probably take more care than people think,” Julie said. And it all starts with how they are planted. Starting from the bottom up, a foundation of four layers of materials gives your plants the drainage and support they need. Illustrated on a large panel set on a side table inside the shop, the four layers include: perlite, charcoal, sand, and dirt.
Terrariums have been trending for some time, appealing to young and old alike. Just recently, a grandmother and her granddaughter visited Ampersand Elements to select plants, containers, and embellishments from bins of seashells, stones, and moss to create a miniature world of their very own making.
Whether you go with a terrarium, a dish garden, or any other houseplant variety, you’re likely to improve your environment. Houseplants not only look good, they purify the air and lift the mood. Two good reasons to bring a bit life indoors.
Ampersand Elements offers workshops for a variety of terrarium styles and plantings, and Julie designs beautiful floral arrangements for weddings and events. Visit her shop or visit on-line at Ampersand Elements.