Bring nature indoors by making your own terrarium—expert Marela Ambulo is here to show you how. Photographed by Luis Angel Montellano
In ancient Greece, travelers built small gardens in closed vessels to transport their plants to new worlds and territories. Fast forward a couple thousand years, and the terrarium trend is still going strong (though ours probably aren’t traveling quite so far). A wonderful fusion of art, crafts, and horticulture, these miniature verdant worlds can offer a touch of nature to even the smallest of spaces (perfect for urbanites looking to spruce up their windowsills or fire escapes) and can be as simple or as intricate as you please.
Many florists now sell terrariums, but we’re especially enamored with the ones made by Los Angeles-based Marela Ambulo, who runs the Terrarium Shop on Etsy. She started making her own two years ago, after her boyfriend gave her one as a gift, and over the past year she created and sold more than 5,000 DIY terrarium kits. Ambulo grew up in the Philippines and says that her terrariums make her feel at home. “We live in a tiny apartment and I miss the fresh air, our big backyard, the small garden we had growing up,” she says. “These make me feel connected to nature.” Eventually, Ambulo would like to open up her own brick-and-mortar terrarium shop and green house, where she could offer classes and workshops. “For me, it’s about sharing my passion with other people, creating this beautiful little world that can change how you feel about your home,” she says. But for now she’s happy to share with us a step-by-step guide to creating your very own self-contained ecosystem. MICHAELA MCMAHON-DUNPHY