Visions of Green (man)

Greenman tags

Post by Gareth Hart.

Terrariums and miniature gardens are wonderful creations for Winter – the perfect way to satisfy your green thumb, whilst rugged up in your pyjamas and never taking off those moccasins!

I met with Carol Tregonning, who creates stunning terrariums and miniature gardens from her delightful studio in Sassafras.

Carol is a very giving soul, I left her beautifully peaceful studio with many gifts from the kindness of her heart and the lushness of her garden, which is ironic, because her sellable creations would be a beautiful gift for anyone.

“It’s like a meditation for me. Being here, making them up, and caring for them and watching them grow. It’s really peaceful.”

Carol Tregonning is an art therapist, who works with dreams and art therapy and considers making miniature gardens as a little like the art therapy she does with herself. Her passion oozes through her designs, and whilst not a designer per se, or having studied design, Carol does enjoy the design aspect of her work. This design element is very strong in her creations.

“I just love nature, and I love design. I would have loved to have done design.”

Carol Tregonning terrariums Carol Tregonning terrarium

Her gardens are created with delicacy and intricacy, using a range of unique plants, and often accompanied by the rich green textures of moss, baby tears or duck weed.

They are never the same. I don’t make them up all the same. I just make them as I go and see what comes through, instead of having an idea about them. And then people have their own individual bowl/terrarium. I like people to be able to come in and say ‘I love that, so I’ll have that one’. And then they have their own garden to take home.”

The name Green Man alludes to a mythical nature spirit that is found across all ages and cultures of the world, representing a symbol of rebirth, which is associated with nature, wild life and plant growth. Carol was inspired to call her business Greenman after she herself saw a green man in a vision. Carols own Green Man, her trade mark business name, allows others to see into the microcosm of her world. And as many of her terrariums are predominantly housed in glass, you can see right into them, right into the miniature worlds that Carol creates. Through these creations, I have a sense that Carol allows her clients to see a tiny part of her original vision.


You can find Carol’s creations at a range of stores locally including The Courtyard (Sassafras), Quirky Werx (Mt Dandenong), and the Mt Dandenong Organic Shop.

Greenman terrarium

So how do they work? gives us the insight we need:

Bottle gardens [terrariums] work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients.

Light is absorbed by proteins containing chlorophylls (a green pigment). Some of that light energy is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a molecule that stores energy. The rest is used to remove electrons from the water being absorbed from the soil through the plant’s roots. These electrons then become ‘free’ – and are used in chemical reactions that convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, releasing oxygen.

This photosynthesis process is the opposite of the cellular respiration that occurs in other organisms, including humans, where carbohydrates containing energy react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, water, and release chemical energy.

But the eco-system also uses cellular respiration to break down decaying material shed by the plant. In this part of the process, bacteria inside the soil of the bottle garden absorbs the plant’s waste oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide which the growing plant can reuse.

And, of course, at night, when there is no sunlight to drive photosynthesis, the plant will also use cellular respiration to keep itself alive by breaking down the stored nutrients.

Because the bottle garden is a closed environment, that means its water cycle is also a self-contained process. The water in the bottle gets taken up by plants’ roots, is released into the air during transpiration, and condenses down into the potting mixture, where the cycle begins again.





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