Inspired by a recent article in Martha Stewart, I decided to put together a decorative dish garden. My mother helped kickstart the project by digging out a lovely, shallow soup tureen, and then I was off to the garden center to pick up materials. I bought charcoal, orchid bark, orchid food, button fern, some other houseplant, a decorative accent, and three orchids (what extravagance!). The photo below is what my raw materials looked like.
The poor orchid is soaking in a pitcher of water to loosen its roots so I could pull the exhausted potting bark out and put in fresh stuff. I don't think that orchid will want to be watered for a month.
I began my dish with a layer of gravel at the bottom to provide drainage, then some charcoal to keep the pot fresh. Root rot is not on the agenda here.
Because the orchid woman was so vehement about needing to keep the roots tightly bound, I replaced the orchids in their little cups, but trimmed the cups down so that they wouldn't be visible. This will keep the roots tight and the arrangement pretty.
Then I tucked smaller plants like the button fern and the whatchamacallit around to provide stability and also variety of height and texture. (I was going to include myself more in this photo, but I was showing WAY too much cleavage!) While the orchids were well packed in bark, the other plants have little pockets of the soil that they prefer. Finally I covered the whole with some attractive mossy stuff and added my decorative accents.
My decorations, as you can see, are a wee little bridge that I bought at the garden center, along with an old marble frog. I like the "landscapey" effect of this arrangement, and I'm keeping it next to the kitchen sink where it can get sunlight and humidity. Next I'd love to try a terrarium arrangement under glass (I have a lovely cheese dome that would work perfectly), but I think I need to do more research before I prepare a whole ecosystem. I'd also probably have to do some woodland raiding for moss.