David Latimer's Terrarium

In 1960, David Latimer decided to grow a sealed glass bottle terrarium.  He never imagined that it would grow into an incredible research study, and be dubbed “the world’s oldest terrarium.” Over the years, David’s bottle garden was sealed shut but remains healthy and robust as it can be.

It has flourishing plant life even though it has not that has not been watered since 1972. David established the terrarium by placing a quarter pint of compost and water inside the ten-gallon bottle (these are usually made by custom hand-blown glass makers).  He then added spiderworts seeds with the help of a wire.

After that, he sealed the bottle and put it in a corner filled with sunlight.  Then, let nature do its job through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis releases oxygen and moisture into the air via the plants. 

The water will then begin to build up and pour down onto the plants. The leaves will also fall and rot, releasing carbon dioxide, which the plants require for their food. Creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. It’s a stunning illustration of how nature can preserve itself.

Latimer opened the terrarium in 1972 to supply the plants with water.  However, it has been sealed with no air or freshwater ever since. The garden has been set in the same room for the past 27 years at the home of the Latimer family.

“It’s six feet from a window, so it is exposed to sunlight. It’s a little more oriented towards the sun and is rotated around now and then so that it develops uniformly. It’s also the standard for low-maintenance. I’ve never trimmed it. It just appears to have grown to the boundaries in the bottle.” David Latimer

 David says that the bottle garden is pretty dull.  It’s not doing anything; however, it is fascinating to him to determine how long it will last. He plans to pass on the “world’s oldest terrarium” to his children once they are older.

Even if they do not have an interest in the meanwhile, if they do not want it, the terrarium will then go to the Royal Horticultural Society located in London, England. It’s a stunning illustration of how nature can preserve itself.

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