A new generation of urban mainlanders is turning to miniature gardens to bring the natural environment into their homes
With residents of Beijing and other cities in the Chinese mainland living under the constant threat of environmental pollution, any oasis of greenery has come to be especially prized. Recently, miniature moss gardens have become particularly sought out by city dwellers, valued for their appearance, convenience and benefits.
Moss terrariums – think soil-filled, fish-free aquariums – are now rivaling potted plants as the indoor foliage of choice in many mainland homes. These tiny gardens feature an array of moss, plants, partitions, sand, cartoon characters and miniature model animals, with owners adding their own creative touches.
"The worse pollution gets, the better the greenery market fares,” said Ye Chao, proprietor of a Beijing shop specialising in selling miniature moss gardens. With air quality particularly poor in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, sales of both air purifiers and green plants have soared.
"Terrarium sales are increasing every year,” Mr Ye said. “In 2010, we opened our first shop in The Place, one of Beijing's more upmarket malls. It proved so successful that we have since opened two more, with spider plants, money plants and lucky bamboo among our best-sellers.
Typically bottle gardens sell for about Rmb40-90 (US$5.80-13.10) in Beijing, while costing just Rmb10-30 to make. On Taobao, JD.com and other e-commerce platforms, the gardens retail for between Rmb30 and Rmb200, while costs vary from just a few renminbi to about Rmb30.
While more bottle gardens are currently purchased online than on the high street, it’s expected that the growing trend towards personalisation may benefit conventional retailers, which can offer professional assistance compared to the one-size-fits-all products offered online.
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Featured Image: A cultivation class at a bottle garden shop and Garden in a Jar. Images courtesy HKTDC.