I suspect few children of today would spend countless hours putting together the perfect indoor garden. To us, as 9 and 10 year olds, the first step was begging an old biscuit tin lid from our mothers or grandmothers. The biscuit tin lid was ideal because it was just the right depth. Next, armed with our empty tin lids, we would make our way down to the end of the garden or, in my case, into the woods that grew around my grandparents’ home. Here we would find the dank conditions ideal for the sphagnum moss to grow and plenty of leaf mould to use as compost. We would fill our tins just below the rim with the leaf mould and then gently press the sphagnum moss into place to completely cover the leaf mould in the tin lid.
The next stage was to obtain tiny stones or tiny shells – I was lucky there because we lived within a few yards of the beachfront so I had access to plenty of shells. We would then proceed to decorate our gardens – one year I was even able to get some alpine plants to grow in mine: I prized some of these little plants from the crevices of our garden wall. Making an indoor garden was often given to us as a homework task from school during our Easter holidays. Of course, it helped that we all enjoyed making them. Today, sadly, it seems rather a lost art.
A more modern interpretation – to the West, at least – is the Executive Meditation Zen Garden. This is probably better known as a Sand Garden. I actually bought one this year for my daughter at Christmas. The intention of this is to create an oasis of calm in people’s busy lives and reduce the stress people are under today. These miniature sand gardens were inspired from Ryoan-ji, the Zen Rock Garden in Kyoto, Japan. If you purchase a kit, the Zen Garden comes with white sand, zen rakes and a range of polished stones, together with a booklet explaining the concept of Zen. Some kits include a Tori Zen chime, a tea light candle, a mallet and some incense sticks. All of this is set in a beautiful rosewood tray that is beautifully finished and makes an absolutely delightful and original focal point as part of any interior design project.
Taking the theme of interior gardening ideas further, there are the companies which supply various plants for the interior of office buildings. There are the palms which require levels of light up to 800 lux, growing from just 50cm up to 10m or more. Plants such as the Howea forsteriana which do really well in conditions where light is reasonable. The Dracaena family of plants is one of the most popular plants for indoor gardens as the dark green leaves only require a fairly low level of light although the variegated Dracaena does prefer a bit more light. They can grow from just 30cm to 5m in height. Dracaena is known by the delightful names of Song of India, and Song of Jamaica, amongst others. Whether it is sand gardens or the indoor gardens of our youth, there is no doubt that growing plants in the house alters the atmosphere of any room and brings it more alive and adds attractiveness.