KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — The trend for terrariums is not going to be dying anytime soon. With more and more people in the city living in condominiums, sometimes the only possible connection with Nature is through these mini bottled gardens.
As they require less fuss compared to a full-blown garden, terrariums are also perfect for a lazy person. If you are not sure how to start your terrarium journey, sign up for Ohsum Mossum Terrariums’s workshops conducted by Ronnie Khoo, 40.
Who knows, you may end up being addicted to making these Zen gardens just like Ronnie.
As a young kid, he was interested in keeping goldfish and turtles. Later, he started to dabble in balcony gardening and aquariums.
In 2015, when Bangsar’s Snackfood, a concept store, did a terrarium workshop with Singapore-based Charles Loh who is behind Mossingarden, Ronnie attended at the prodding of Snackfood’s Adeline Chong who is a close friend.
Bitten by the terrarium bug, Ronnie decided to start exploring the possibilities of using other items besides moss for terrariums; air plants, succulents and cacti. As he had no moss supplier, he would often pick up moss from the longkang and along hiking trails.
Soon before he realised it, his own collection had grown into 15 terrariums. “I found it very fulfilling as you spend 15-30 minutes only on it. With such a low effort, there was a lot of satisfaction... it grew on me.”
He then decided to join the Mari Market and managed to sell most of his terrariums. Buoyed by the good response, he continued selling his terrariums on the bazaar circuit and started Ohsum Mossum Terrariums.
Terrarium making was also a great stress buster for the telecommunications engineer who has been in the industry for about 10-15 years. Last September, he decided to go full-time into the terrarium business.
“It reached a point where I couldn’t do it for another 10 years as it was unfulfilling already and the industry was too hard to take.” He also cites other encouraging factors like his circle of friends who are currently involved in the local art market scene.
What sets Ronnie apart from others is a focus on educating others about terrariums. “The best part about keeping a terrarium is learning how to do it so you know how to maintain it.”
He also believes that setting expectations for first-timers is important since it will only last as long as you maintain it.
With his own terrarium workshop housed in Vivande Cafe at Bangsar’s Tivoli Villas, he often holds classes. It’s a win-win arrangement for both parties as the cafe was looking for a way to differentiate themselves from the typical run-of-the-mill places by offering workshops.
This also fits the current lifestyle trend as urbanites prefer to learn something of use rather than spend their money going to a shopping mall on weekends.
Ronnie also collaborates with many others for terrarium workshops. You can find him at A Little Farm on the Hill where he teaches terrarium workshops once a month.
There was also a recent collaboration with Koncent Malaysia where he conducted a walk-in air plant decor workshop and a stint at Art for Grabs where he taught people how to upcycle old jars into terrariums.
The catalyst for teaching was a personal observation he made when he first started making terrariums: nurseries weren’t able to answer all his questions such as the names of the plants.
“The local plant industry does not give education. It is not a studied approach, more like a practical one.” He hopes with his classes he can start the ball rolling among enthusiasts and in a way, promote potential growth of the industry.
Ronnie’s classes cover a gamut of topics from the basic terrariums (closed and open) to more unusual workshops like upcycling old jars into mini landscapes. Whether it’s a glass cookie jar, disused jam jar or even a biscuit tin, you can improvise and convert it to a better purpose for your home.
Ronnie explains to us that ideally you want a clear container with a rubber sealed top. This helps retain the moisture better. He estimates that they can keep for one month or more without watering when they are kept sealed.
Recently, Ronnie taught a workshop on wabi-kusa terrariums. In essence, the Japanese aquascaping technique celebrates the wildness and beauty of Nature.
It has its origins in the Japanese wabi-sabi way that talks about imperfect beauty while kusa means “grass” or “plant” in Japanese. The method involves making a substrate ball covered with moss and populating it with aquatic plants that are grown in a closed terrarium.
Ronnie who also used to dabble in freelance writing and music production also loves puns since they are fun. That creative streak sees him being labelled as the “Mossiah” and even the name of his enterprise is a play of an obscure American saying: “awesome possum.”
Ohsum Mossum Terrariums
Block 2, Level 1, Tivoli Villas, Jalan Medang Tanduk, Bangsar, KL
Tel: 016-377 1419
For May 27 and 28, Ohsum Mossum Terrariums will be collaborating with Fab Space KL for a moss frame workshop at The Isetan Japan Store Kuala Lumpur.