Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Wardian Case

A few weeks ago, I found something at our new Hobby Lobby that I've been searching for the last five years or so.  It wasn't an urgent search because it wasn't one of life's necessities, so I could afford to be patient.  But I was happy to find one and really happy with the price.

It's a terrarium, and this particular style is known as a Wardian case.  If you're not familiar with the history, these were invented by Dr. Nathanial Bagshaw Ward around 1829.  Dr. Ward was a physician who had a passionate interest in botany.  He had about 25,000 personally collected specimens in his herbarium.  However, the ferns in his London garden were being poisoned by London's air pollution (mostly coal smoke and sulphuric acid).  An accidental discovery inspired the doctor to create the Wardian case, an early form of the terrarium.  You can read more about it Here.


These are images of some early Edwardian cases, found on Wikipedia.



I found any number of these cases online some years ago, but what held me back from ordering were the prices.


Found on Wine Vine Imports, this Wardian case sells for $79.00.  It's somewhat fancier than mine, although it's smaller, and I can't find anywhere on the site that tells where this case is made.  Hmmm.  I know mine was made in the far east, somewhere that begins with "C" and ends with "a."  ;)  Since the website doesn't tell where the one from Wine Vine Imports is made, I have a feeling it wasn't made in the U.S. or the U.K either.


The above case is closest in size to mine, but it's definitely fancier than the one I bought.  The top is lovely, and it has a band of green, stained glass across both sides of the roof.  It sells for $129.50.  I saw many priced higher than this. This case is designed and manufactured by the H. Potter Company and sold by Amazon.

I love the distressed verdigris look of the metal on this one, the arches on the glass, and the little bird on top.  Hobby Lobby actually had one very similar to the one from Amazon, but I felt it was too tall for me to use indoors.  So, this one was $70.00, but it was 50% off.  Almost everything in the store was discounted to 50% off because the store had just opened.  I got it for $35.00, plus tax.  I was thrilled!  I had just stopped by to check out the new store, and I unexpectedly found something on my "list."  :)

The reason I love these Wardian cases is that they remind me of miniature English conservatories, or Victorian greenhouses.

Like this one in Reynolda Gardens, in Winston-Salem, N.C., made by Lord & Burnham.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good place to put this where it would receive proper sunlight, so I had to settle for fake plants for now.  I also found those at Hobby Lobby.

I would love to put some real plants in my Wardian case, and maybe later, I'll have somewhere to put it that will get lots of sunlight.  Until then, I'll enjoy having it in our den where I can see it on a daily basis.

Have you happened on any good bargains lately?  Thank you for visiting and reading my blog -- you're very much appreciated!!  We've had rain since Monday evening and are forecast to have rain through next Monday.  Have a great day and I hope you're enjoying some sunshine where you are.



  1. It's nice when you finally find something that's been 'on the list' for a while-enjoy:@)

  2. Love the education I got today about Wardian cases. Very cool. Love yours from Hobby Lobby. I can't think of any great bargains I've gotten lately...

  3. Denise, The history about the Wardian case was very interesting. I love the verdigris finish too. I have a tray that has a similar look. I love Hobby Lobby because they make nice things affordable. You have given me an idea for my porch because the squirrels keep eating my potato vine.

    Have I told you before I had the same wallpaper in my other house that you have in your foyer? just noticed it on your sidebar.

    Have a good weekend.

  4. Very interesting read. Sulfuric acid must have made people sick along with the plants.
    I would love to get one now, and I'm thinking a fairy garden would be nice in one. I keep forgetting about the hobby lobby that opened near by.

  5. I never knew those cute little things were called Wardian cases, Denise. I just called them terrariums. Thanks for informing me with the history of them. I've always wanted one, too, and found one at HomeGoods, but didn't buy it. I went back to get it, and it was gone. Oh well, it wasn't meant to be! I love yours and how you've decorated it with the cute plants. Enjoy your fun, new purchase.

  6. What a find! Remember back in the 70s when everyone had terrariums? Whatever happened to that? I loved mine and had a couple of them. I think it's time to revisit those days, thanks to your inspiration and shopping savvy.

  7. I have a Wardian case, and I keep it filled with whatzits for every season. Sometimes a cup and saucer with a bit of ivy, sometimes a silver creamer full of butter pats, at Christmas it houses a manger scene. Sometimes it has a candle (battery) in a pretty dish, or a dish turned sideways with a faux plant spilling out...etc., etc.. You will have so much fun with your beautiful got a really good deal!!!
    Be blessed,



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