Paula Hayes’ astonishingly beautiful terrariums


“It’s only very partially an object. It’s mostly a verb.”

That’s how Paula Hayes defines a terrarium, as you’ll see and hear in the video above. Hayes is known for a variety of botanical art endeavors, including landscapes and living sculptures that can take the form of necklaces, planters, bird feeders, and terrariums. Hayes is first an artist, who has a masters’ degree in sculpture from Parsons, but she supported herself as a gardener during her college years. After that, she started combining sculpture and gardening in objects that contain landscapes and landscapes that often contain objects—simple, poetic, ephemeral. 

The terrariums are always hand-blown in spherical organic shapes, and are the most delicate and beautiful I have ever seen.  Recently, Hayes accepted a challenge to think of forms that would complement the lobby of New York’s Musuem of Modern Art and came up with Nocturne of the Limax maximus, an installation containing two large-scale terrariums: Slug and Egg

See it at MoMA, if you can; the installation runs through February 11. 

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried and failed at terrariums. I haven’t decided if this inspires me to try again or convinces me that terrarium making is not my forte.

  2. My, my, those are splendid. You know I love terrariums. Thank you for calling these to our attention.

    Sometimes, my terrariums fail too, but the plants aren’t that expensive to replace, and I love these worlds in miniature. In fact, I have an article due this week about terrariums.~~Dee

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