Sandy River Terrariums —SCB


Over our spring break, we rented a funky little house right on the Salmon River on Mt. Hood for a few nights. The location was stunning—verdant, lush and happy with early spring. We entertained ourselves with hikes and books and games and exploring, free of expectations and agendas.

I had some of the film I shot processed this week and was reminded of the riverside terrariums we made one morning and thought I’d share how we put them together. This was a totally impromptu project—we started with some empty jars from food we brought with us and a desire to bring a bit of the mountain home and that was it.


We found a cache of river stones along the banks of the river and added an inch or so of the tiniest ones for drainage. Had I planned this project, I would have then added a layer of activated carbon which absorbs moisture and odors, but we went without.


Next came a layer of soil.


We gently collected the smallest forest ferns and moss, careful to include their roots and arranged them in our jars (my kids have long, skinny hands, seemingly built for arranging things in jars, but you could use a long teaspoon or other tool).

The last step was to add sticks, stones, bits of lichen and other found objects to the jars and add a bit of water. Two weeks later, the terrariums are still lush and thriving in my kids rooms (even without the carbon, though we may add some to the jars)—riverside memories captured in a jar.