Terrarium or Planetarium?

Dr Nathaniel Ward in 1829 created a device for transporting plants from the tropics back to the chilly shores of Western Europe. His container was called the Wardian Case and is the earliest known example of a terrarium. Since then technology has developed dramatically. Our understanding of plant culture; be it relative humidity, temperature, light levels etc. Our terrariums have subsequently changed to accommodate these requirements. During the 20th century Zoologists began to realise that these controlled environments duplicated the needs for tropical herpetofauna. Thanks to this, Manchester Museums ” Vivarium” could come into existence. But where does terrarium design go from here?

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Biorb Air with Intermediate/ Warm growing Orchid Species (c) T. Hughes

During my recent trip to the RHS Orchid Show I acquired a revolutionary new product called the Biorb Air. Although it may look reminiscent of a planetarium in miniature, it is actually at the forefront of terrarium design. With air purification, a 24 hour light cycle including a sunrise and sunset, a humidifier that automatically mists when humidity drops below 75%, the list goes on. I cannot emphasis how extraordinary this new terrarium is. My Biorb Air (photographed above) has many species of intermediate to warm growing orchids thriving within it. Some of which I have continuously failed to grow until now. I like to think Dr. Ward would have been amazed by how far his simple idea has come.

If your popping into the Museum this half term, why not appreciate the technology that goes into maintaining these rainforest displays, because without it there would be no animals and plants to enjoy.

London`s Temporary Rainforest                                  BiOrb Air

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