Terrarium Workshop at the Gladstone Hotel

A few weeks ago my good pal over at Golden Pouchcakes and I attended a terrarium workshop at the Gladstone Hotel. I’ve attended many events at The Gladstone: trivia nights, a 12 Beers of Christmas ugly sweater party and karaoke, and I’ve always had a blast. So when I saw that they were hosting a terrarium workshop as part of the hotel’s Get School’d Workshop Series, I asked Koshka if she’d join me. I’ll admit I was extra motivated to attend because I just got a window put in my bedroom (yup, you read that correctly – ah, Toronto apartment living), and I wanted to put something fun and plant-y and alive on my new windowsill.

With a $4 pint special in (my) hand, I grabbed my terrarium ‘bowl’ and was instructed to pick three plants (I selected two succulents and one air plant) as well as some stones and figurines (jungle animals and woodland creatures and tombstones, oh my!) and coloured moss and shells and other terrarium decorating accoutrements, if you will. We took our seats (the event was sold out and space was tight) and started to build our terrariums.

Hand to god you’ve never seen a group of more self-doubting, Type-A, typical Toronto perfectionists. We’d all moan and lament over the progress of our terrariums while oohing and aahing over our neighbour’s creation. Strangers turned to strangers with complete sincerity to ask: “Ok, be honest: should I have used the blue sand instead of the white sand?” or “How many shells are too many shells?” or “Is my moss to sand ratio all wrong?”

Around the room you could hear whispers of “I’ve totally fucked this up” and “I used too much/not enough moss/sand/stones/soil. I’ve ruined it!” The woman in front of me turned to her friend and pleaded for guidance – with more sincerity and seriousness than I thought possible: “This is super important: elephant or panther? Or…oh my god…..skull?”

I agonized for 10 minutes over whether to make my terrarium jungle, sahara or forest-themed. At one point I went a little dark with it, adding a tombstone and elk carcass. Then, after the addition of some pine cones I leaned towards a forest theme and never looked back. Luckily I had squirreled (pun intended) away a tony little deer figurine for just such a purpose.

I literally sweat.

I fell in love with my terrarium and moments later hated it again.

I put more thought and care into this terrarium than to learning how to drive.

Koshka’s took on a sci-fi Doctor Who theme (she had brought a few figurines in from home) and while initially she was disappointed with the result, the suggested addition of some dark purple (almost maroon) sand proved to be a game changer.

Friendships were forged.

Beer was consumed.

Extra plants were bartered for and moss was exchanged.

It was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done.

And in the end, I brought home a super cool terrarium that adds a great visual punch to an all-white closet and windowsill. I love it.


Gathering my terrarium-building materials and yes that includes beer – I’m not crafty and I second-guessed almost every decision I made


Coming together after the addition of my deer, mushroom plant, pine cones and stones


Koshka’s Doctor Who-themed terrarium – Weeping Angels and Cybermen and cool-looking plants


Welcome to my windowsill


The cost of the workshop was $60 and included the glass bowl, 3 plants and a selection of stones, soil, shells, sand, charcoal, moss, and figurines/decorative additions.



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