This, gardening historian Catherine Horwood tells me, was the first time terrariums came back into vogue since the Victorian era - but the motivation behind the trend was very similar: “if you wanted to keep up with the Joneses, you needed a case to keep your ferns, auricula, primroses, among all sorts of plants, away from the ghastly urban atmosphere that was caused by coal fires in homes”.
Give or take a couple of centuries, and terrariums have been creeping into the homes of the middle classes once again. The trend is a few years old now, and was largely inspired by cutting edge plant design companies on America and Canada’s West Coast. After seeing terrariums in San Francisco, Alyson Mowat started creating bottle gardens. After hosting a few workshops in how to make them and experimenting with other glass vessels, she started to cut glass and solder together her own terrariums. Launching Botanique Boutique, her luxury terrarium company, in 2013 was a natural progression.
Emma Sibley’s company, London Terrariums, also grew out of playing around with bottle gardens that were popular in the Sixties. Three years later, the South London-based company have run more than 100 terrarium workshops, after starting with just a couple a month. “They’ve skyrocketed”, she says. For the current wave of terrarium fans the appeal is more complicated than a desire to keep humidity-loving plants happy in cold, draughty homes: much of the trend is rooted in the creation of terrariums, which takes place in workshops hosted in independent lifestyle shops and out-of-hours in fashionable cafes.