The Metro Green Thumb Club: Introducing Silong, Maker Of Terrarium Plants For The Moody Gardener
Has gardening ever looked cooler?
There's more to being a gardener than being your neighborhood's cheerful mother hen type whose personality is brighter than the giant sunflowers that line her flowerbed and warmer than the apple pie that sits on her windowsill every Friday afternoon.
Gardeners can spin records and be into some pretty sick tunes, have an affinity for moody lighting and dark palettes, and be some of the most interesting, creative folks out there—just like April Trower and Martin Lazaro, owners of Silong, one of the more original pandemic-born plant businesses we've seen to date.
"I was already quite obsessed with plants and garden design 20 years ago," April begins.
"I started landscaping and practicing with my own garden at home and at work. Since then I think I landscaped our gardens six times just so I can play with different designs," she further reveals, as she tells us how she got started on Silong early last year.
As for Martin who was a plantito years before COVID's stay at home rules made it the new trendy thing to be, he eventually wanted to find a way to share all that his green thumb is capable of producing. He's had experience with running plant-centric business before, and at Silong, he explored everything and anything from dish gardens, terrariums, vertical gardens, and even landscaping and hardscaping.
Putting their heads together, they created Silong whose products give off the vibe that Edgar Allan Poe had created a garden himself, one that's pretty and awe-inspiring, but with a light brush of melancholy.
Speaking of Silong's terrariums, that's exactly why we're here.
If you've never heard of terrariums, now you will.
Terrariums are essentially miniature gardens—not just miniature plants like bonsais or cute little succulents, but actual pocket-sized gardens that are often designed to fit into sealable containers like jars, bottles, and even niftier containers like repurposed aquariums and lamps. More so, what makes terrariums so awesome isn't just that they look out of this world, but that biologically, they're self-sufficient eco-systems that can be left on their own to thrive. Terrarium plants are able to "water" themselves thanks to the processes of condensation and transpiration.
Basically, they're high school science lessons in the flesh and made stylish by April and Martin.
But there was nothing quite as scientific or pragmatic about the way they learned to make Silong's best-selling items.
Martin started with his idea of how to take what he loved most about the big old outdoors, indoors, how to recrate the magnificence of the natural world within only a few inches of glass.
Moss—that was the magic sauce. Get the moss right, then experiment with small plants, and voila. You've succeeded at your first attempt at an amateur terrarium. But note that Martin has been doing this for years, and for the gardening green horn rather than the seasoned green thumb, it might take a some more than just installing a carpet of damp moss and sticking in a twig or two.
As April recalls what it was like to perfect what are now Silong's signature terrariums, she says, "Martin was the best teacher and I learned a lot from him. First he made me clean, ready-made terrariums. That was difficult. It was like trial by fire!"
"But that training which includes maneuvering around difficult vessels to reach parts that need cleaning and editing made things so much easier for me now. Coming up with designs was a little easy but the difficult part was the execution and thanks to Martin my creations are, I should say, not bad at all," she smiles.
But April has done more than graduate with honors as Martin's terrarium trainee.
Being in the business of interior design herself, April knows just how much a bit of lighting could change the entire personality of a place (or a terrarium), and it's exactly this skill of hers that have made Silong's terrariums stand out.
"My other company builds and refits luxury yachts to [wherein] I design the interior myself. I understand the importance of lighting and how it affects the mood and aesthetics of an area. When Martin and I started Silong, we both agreed that we will be different and that we won't just supply plants but rise above that and give our clients more," she explains.
"Part of that is to light up majority of the products we do and offer. It took a lot of R&D, and now all our terrariums have lights in. [It's] tedious as each one of the vessels needs customizing for the cork and light integration," she adds.
Silong's terrariums and other creations
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The same thought goes into Silong's other creations, especially their vertical gardens and landscaping. Light can spell the difference between a bland backyard versus a sophisticated veranda, an ignorable corner plant versus a living, breathing wall piece.
It's safe to say that Silong's clientele is quickly expanding thanks to April and Martin's combo of originality and meticulous eye for design. In just one month, the pair has enjoyed the success of two pop-up events, the second of which will be staged at the SM Mega Fashion Hall from February 17 to 23.
April and Martin do accept custom orders, and that goes for most of what Silong creates including their indoor vertical gardens and terrariums. And if you do find yourself being the proud new order of a Silong terrarium, heed April and Martin's advice to keep your green conversation piece alive and well.
"While the idea of a terrarium is to let nature take its course, the owner should also do their part in the maintenance of the thriving eco-system. Maintenance means weekly checking for yellowing or browning of leaves, opening the lid to allow new air to come in and to prevent the formation of molds," they say.
For the newbies who want to take one of these babies home, don't be intimidated by terrarium care. April and Martin have taken care of the hardest part of the process (i.e.: creating the terrarium), so by the time it gets to you, all it needs is some TLC to make it, even from the most freshly budded of green thumbs, and you'll be good to go.
Oh, and don't forget to put on a good playlist, too.
Photos courtesy of April Trower / Additional images from @silong_dekor