Monday, July 26, 2010

The Bell Jar

No, this has nothing to do with Sylvia Plath's novel. It has everything to do with glass bell jars, also known as belljars, also known as cloches, and the way they can make anything inside them look like a curious laboratory specimen.

Designed to protect tender young plants outside during cold weather, bell jars provide a warm, humid environment which can speed a plant to maturation. But because they act as miniature greenhouses, they also can cause a plant to overheat in a deadly way during the summer, so be sure to raise the bottom for ventilation. If you can't find anything prettier, you can use a pair of bricks to do this.

And do you know what bell jars are great for? Holding your precious little carnivorous plants captive in their perfectly humid environment. See how happy this pitcher plant (sarracenia purpurea) is in this bell jar from English Creek Gardens? If an insect-eating plant like this can thrive under the glass dome, just imagine your man-eating Audrey plant inside one of these puppies!

If your laboratory happens to be more anatomical than botanical, bell jars are also extremely effective with a skull underneath. Check out the one above from Dapper Cadaver. Other creepy display alternatives include a hand, a heart, -or heck, a whole baby doll! Naked, like this one.

For year round usage, a faux bird's nest with some blue robin's eggs (also faux) looks nice. These are available from floral suppliers or from craft stores like Michael's. Never use a real nest. You want to imitate nature, not disturb it.

I love versatile items like this, that work so well for gardening and Halloween. You just can't go wrong.

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